Tourists told they are easy target for sneak robberies

FESTIVAL-goers have been warned they are being seen as “easy pickings” by thieves after a pair of pickpockets were snared by police while operating near The Mound.

Undercover police officers have been deployed on the streets in a bid to catch the culprits in the act while the Capital’s population swells.

Officers captured the two men, aged 44 and 19, allegedly trying to rob victims at the Playfair steps on Wednesday.

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They were later arrested and charged with four alleged attempted thefts at various locations in the city centre. Both men were expected to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

The arrests followed another incident at the popular Spiegeltent venue in George Street on Saturday night, where three men were arrested and charged in connection with the attempted theft of a handbag.

The incidents have sparked a warning from police to festival-goers advising them to keep their possessions safe and close at hand.

Chief Inspector Gavin Phillip said: “Over the past fortnight we have been working closely with our partners in City of Edinburgh Council, G4S, and Festivals Edinburgh to ensure that all agencies are working together to identify and deal with any emerging criminal activity and other issues.

“While there have been a relatively low number of thefts since the festival season got under way, we want people to be aware that there are individuals who are attracted to the city centre by the high number of visitors offering the potential of easy pickings.

“We are carrying out a range of disruption activity in order to identify and deal with anyone suspected of visiting the city centre for this purpose, including the use of plain-clothes officers and CCTV, and we are keen that people help us to make it as difficult as possible for thieves to operate.”

Chief Insp Phillip said that festival-goers were leaving themselves vulnerable. He added: “We have noticed a trend where people are leaving their bags or other belongings lying unattended while they are socialising, allowing a golden opportunity for thieves.

“It is important that people remain vigilant when it comes to looking after their items, and I would urge people to visit the Lothian and Borders Police website, where a range of crime prevention and personal safety advice is available.”

Tips on crime prevention have been posted on information displays erected in the High Street.

Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, said: “People should be trying to keep their possessions safe.

“We have additional council wardens and police on patrol in hotspot areas, particularly places like the High Street and The Mound. The fact that these arrests have been made shows that this approach is proving successful.”