POLICE today warned revellers to be on their guard against opportunist thieves operating in pubs and nightclubs over the festive season after a rise in the number of thefts in the city centre.
Officers are investigating nearly 100 reported thefts from bars, clubs and hotels in the city centre since the start of this month.
Cash, handbags, mobile phones, wallets, coats and passports have been among the items targeted by thieves.
Police have urged members of the public out celebrating Christmas and New Year in the Capital’s venues to take precautions to avoid falling victim to crime.
Extra high-visibility patrols are running in a bid to deter thieves, while officers are working with door staff to try and identify offenders.
The force is also working closely with the Unight scheme, which links all 45 venues with late licences in Edinburgh, to help keep out troublemakers.
Chief Inspector Gavin Phillip said: “Edinburgh city centre enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a safe destination for revellers, particularly at this time of year when there is always a fun and festive atmosphere.
“Unfortunately, the increased number of visitors to the centre also presents an attractive opportunity for thieves.
“We are keen to ensure that people enjoying a night out in Edinburgh take measures to protect their property, particularly as we look forward to this year’s Hogmanay celebrations.
“We would urge revellers not to leave their valuables unattended, to keep handbags zipped up, and to avoid leaving items such as mobile phones and iPods on tables.
“We are continuing to work with our partners in the licensed trade, City of Edinburgh Council and Essential Edinburgh to make the city centre a hostile environment for thieves, and I would urge the public to play their part in helping us by not allowing themselves to be a soft target.”
Police are also carrying out extra patrols in areas such as Winter Wonderland in Princes Street Gardens in an effort to reduce antisocial behaviour over the festive period.
Sarah David, who runs the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub in Blair Street and sits on the board of Unight, said: “From the outset, Unight has led the way in creating a safer environment for our customers. Edinburgh city centre is one of the most visited in the UK, and is thankfully also one of the safest in the UK, with very little serious crime reported compared to similar city centres.
“However, at this busy time of year, with the increased footfall in the city, we would urge our customers to be vigilant of their property so as not to have their festive season spoiled by the perpetrators of petty crime.”
Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, said: “Edinburgh is a safe place for a night out, however with the increase in visitors to the city centre during the festive season we would remind everyone to ensure their valuables are safe and secure.
“The council has also put in place extra measures to deal with any antisocial behaviour.
“These include high-visibility patrols by community safety officers, environmental wardens and the police, marshalled taxi ranks operating until 4am and mobile CCTV cameras.”