Surry Hills police have reported a recent spike in premeditated thefts of bags and other items from patrons at licensed premises on Oxford St and its surrounds and are asking people to be more watchful of their belongings.

Surry Hills LAC crime prevention officer Constable Craig Parkinson told the Star Observer that the thefts, which had spiked over the last few months, were “well-planned and offenders are taking time to watch their potential victims before making a move”.

Parkinson believes thieves may be operating as part of an organised group.

Incidents reported to Surry Hills police include items being stolen from bags on the back of chairs, and wallets, laptops and mobile phones on and under tables — and even out of pockets.

Stonewall licensee Craig Bell recommended people who do not want to hold on to their bags use the venue’s cloakroom.

He agreed “100 percent” that thieves in the area were well organised and told the Star Observer of an offender caught and handed over to police who hid himself among a group of girls who did not know him, while going through a stolen bag.

“These people are very rehearsed. Even when they are spotted, they have enough confidence and rehearsal to stand next to someone, giving the impression they were friends,” Bell said.

Arq owner Shad Danesi said sometimes patrons returning from the dancefloor mistakenly picked up the wrong bag or jacket, and did not realise it for some time.

He encouraged patrons to be more accountable for their own actions by using the venue’s cloakroom and taking notice of signs warning people about the possibility of thefts.

Constable Parkinson urged anybody who has witnessed or been a victim of theft in the area to contact the Surry Hills Police Station on 02 9265 4144 or to go in person to make a report as reporting directly to the station would enable a faster response.

In related news, Surry Hills police have started holding quarterly meetings to engage with community groups, including residents and businesses.

The purpose of the Community Action Group meetings is to bring established stakeholder groups together to discuss concerns, advice, information and, it is hoped, solutions.

The most recent Community Action Group meeting was at Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre on September 5. The next meeting will take place on December 5 at the same venue.

By JEREMY MASPERO

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