WILTSHIRE Police have launched a yuletide operation to keep people and businesses safe over the festive period.

Operation Dasher will see officers, PCSOs and special constables on foot patrols on a daily basis in the town centre and Old Town until Christmas Eve.

A police mobile unit and patrols will cover the five out-of-town shopping centres, and officers in plain clothes will be deployed on covert patrols.

The annual seasonal operation is supported by inSwindon Bid’s Street Team, Swindon Borough Council CCTV operators, and store security staff.

Swindon inspector David Tippetts said: "We want to reassure the public and business community by having a larger, visible presence at this busy time of year when we see a marked increase in shop lifting, opportunistic crimes like purse and bag thefts, and a risk of higher anti-social behaviour across the town.

“Working with our partners gives us a large resource of people to act as our eyes and ears to target and prevent crime across the town. We will be in constant radio contact to promptly respond to incidents, target persistent offenders and identify suspicious behaviour.

“We want people to feel safe, have fun and keep our town a pleasant place to visit, shop and work during the busy festive period and deter opportunistic thieves from committing crime.W

Intelligence will be shared by all the partners at daily briefings to ensure officers can target key locations and individuals.

The police have also offered advice which can help shoppers becoming victims of crime.

When out and about, keep your purse and handbag with you, don't leave it in your trolley, keep cash to a minimum, keep phones and wallets secure and not in a back pocket, be careful at cash machines and shield your PIN.

Leave nothing on show inside vehicles, don't leave presents or valuables inside cars, or tools inside vans overnight.