THE public have been put on the alert after a sudden spate of pickpocket offences in the region’s tourism capital.

Over the past two weeks, 18 people have been targeted in York, mainly in the afternoons between 2pm and 4pm, with the majority of thefts have been at the weekend.

The victims have ranged from students to elderly people, with the thieves particularly targeting mobile phones and purses.

Police are now urging people visiting the city centre to be on their guard and to keep a close eye on their personal belongings.

PC Julia Delaney said: “A number of victims stated that they felt someone push past them but did not realise their purse or phone had been stolen until later on.

“People should be aware that there appear to be pick pockets operating in York city centre and it is important to remain vigilant at all times.”

She added: “Keep your belongings close to your body and be wary of people pushing into you and who is around you.”

Advice includes keeping handbags close by and zipped up, never leaving valuable items on display, not leaving bags unattended, being mindful of distractions and not carrying large amounts of cash.