SHOPPERS in Barnsley town centre have been warned to be on their guard against pickpockets.

The warning comes after the latest crime statistics were revealed at a meeting of the Police Barnsley District Command Team.

The figures show there have been 578 various offences committed in the borough so far this year - representing an increase of 7.6 per cent on last year.

Police are particularly concerned about a recent spike in the number of thefts of purses and mobiles from people visiting the town centre.

Barnsley's crime manager, DCI Craig Jackson, confirmed a number of thefts have occurred both during the day when people are shopping and at night in Barnsley's bars and clubs.

He said: "There will be a police operation in the run-up to Christmas and we're asking people to look after their property to ensure it's not stolen."