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22 June 2011, 06:00
Police are working with schools to help them step up security arrangements after a number of thefts in Hertfordshire.
Officers are also issuing advice to those who work at schools and asking them to be extra vigilant.
The latest incident took place in Welwyn Garden City at Peartree School on Friday (June 17), when a man took two victims' purses, one from the staff locker and another from a handbag, and later a woman tried to use one of the cards at a bank in Stevenage.
The second offence was at Swallow Dell School in Welwyn Garden City where two purses were taken from two further victims' handbags.
The third and final offence that day was at Holwell Primary School in the town where a man entered the school by pretending to be with a parent and child, walking close behind them. He then entered a classroom and took a purse from a member of staff's handbag.
The suspect in all three incidents is described as a white man aged 30 to 40, of stocky build, about 5ft 10ins tall and bald. He was wearing a long-sleeved, navy bomber jacket with a zip, a light blue stripe on the sleeve and an emblem in light blue on the elbow. He also had on wire-rimmed glasses, dark trousers, shiny black shoes and a white top.
These incidents follow a similar burglary at Little Green School in Croxley Green, Watford, during May.
Detective Inspector Robin Winder, from the Welwyn Hatfield Local Crime Unit, said: “We believe these crimes may all be linked and are encouraging people in Hertfordshire schools, be they teachers, parents or other members of staff at schools, to be extra vigilant for these fraudsters.
“Keep an eye out for who may be entering the school and if they indeed are a teacher or parent. Also, we would encourage teachers and members of staff to take extra care with their valuables by ensuring they are locked away or kept somewhere safe while you are at work, including even carrying handbags round with you rather than leaving them in a classroom.
“If you see anyone unfamiliar around your school or who is acting suspiciously, please contact police immediately, as well as a senior member of staff at the school.”
He added: “Finally, one method these fraudsters also use is to phone the victim after taking their purse, asking for their bank details. They will then use these details to try to take money from the victim’s account.
“We would advise people to never hand out give your PIN to anyone. If someone phones claiming to be from your bank and asking for other bank details, you are entitled to say you will phone them back to confirm they are who they say.”
Police are issuing the following advice to teachers, parents and other members of staff at schools: