by Helen Fairley
European criminals are making the most of cut price air fares and heading to the County Town to snatch purses from shoppers.
It is a trend that has already been spotted by police in London, and now Kent Police believe they could be operating around Kent.
John Grant, Maidstone’s crime prevention manager, said he was working with colleagues across the county to try to back up their beliefs.
He said: “We are working on figures to discover where they are coming from and who they are targeting.”
Mr Grant said criminals in Greece and Spain were known to use distraction techniques like squirting tomato sauce or foul-smelling substances.
We reported a similar instance last week where a shopper had something which smelt like dog excrement sprayed on him in a Maidstone supermarket.
A 40-year-old Chilean woman was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft and released on bail until September 29.
Mr Grant said the aim of the research was to work with airports where criminals were coming in.
He said: “If we discover that someone who is known to us has come to Britain then we can alert regularly targeted towns.”
The research is being done ahead of the expected surge in purse thefts around the Christmas period.
Police were not able to publish the latest figures for purse snatches in the town this week.
Mr Grant said: “When a purse is taken it is not just the money, it is also things like keys, which can lead to people feeling unsafe in their homes, or sentimental irreplaceable objects.”
Advice on how to avoid being a victim and special purse chains are available from Maidstone Police Station.