POLICE are promising to work closer with Romsey residents to help prevent crime.

They held a beat surgery outside Waitrose on Alma Road on Saturday, offering advice to shoppers.

This comes after a spate of purse thefts in the area since the beginning of the year.

In each of the incidences the purses were stolen from the victims while they were shopping in the store.

The stolen bank cards were then used shortly afterwards to make purchases.

In the last incident, which took place on April 5, the victim used her card and pin number in the store and put her purse on the counter.

When she got to her car, she realised she did not have her purse.

She was then contacted by her bank after her card had been used at Ladbrokes in The Hundred, Romsey.

At the surgery, police were issuing lanyards to attach to your cards, as well as advice leaflets promoting some of the services Hampshire Constabulary offer.

PCSO Phoebe Settle said: "The main point of the beat surgery is to promote awareness of purse and wallet thefts happening in and around Romsey, as well as increasing the public's confidence by seeing their local neighbourhood officers out and about and speaking to them.

"We are also here for anyone who has any queries or questions about local issues.

"We issued crime prevention advice such as keeping you handbag done up and protecting your pin.

"We have moved our beat surgeries into the town centre and Waitrose, and are aiming at making them a monthly service to make it more accessible to more people.

"This way we can have more generalised talks, and can discuss anything topical including spikes in crime in a particular area.

"Anyone can come and see and speak to use about anything."

The officers also went around the store a couple of times, with the majority of people keeping their bags done up, resulting in only one person being spoken to.

Tina Kieghtly, who spoke to police at the surgery, said: "It's up the individual really.

"The police can only advise and do so much to help.

"This sort of thing is good to have, but it's always down to us.

"Since hearing of these thefts, I use a different bag with a zip and put my belongings in a bag inside."