Tel Aviv shoppers warned on bag thefts

A store in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center has taken the unusual step of hanging up a sign warning shoppers to protect their personal possessions after an apparent wave of thefts by purse-snatchers and pickpockets has swept through the city's shopping malls lately, reports But Dizengoff Center managers denied that there was widespread theft at the center, saying the number of complaints received was "negligible." According to the report, recent visitors to the Dizengoff Center's Metayel store, which sells travel and camping equipment, have been faced with a bright yellow sign stating in large black letters: "Dear customers, please guard your personal possessions." A store spokeswoman said that personal bags had been stolen from a number of customers while they were in the store, and managers had decided to hang up the sign to warn them to be careful. The store spokeswoman said that sometimes items such as coats were being stolen from the store itself, but most of the thefts were from unwary customers. One shopper said she had put her bag down for "just a second," but when she went to pick it up it was gone. The report also mentioned an incident at Dizengoff Center in which a youth wielding a switchblade stole a computer console from a boy in full view of passersby. Dizengoff Center managers said the center had 50,000 visitors per day and the number of complaints received by the security department was very low. "We oppose the claim that there is a phenomenon (of thefts)," they said.