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Holiday Wallet Warning
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Bonus-filled wallets could make a particularly tempting target for pickpockets who might be prowling the nation's busses and trains during the coming Spring Festival holiday.

"Thieves would also like to get a year-end bonus," Wu Heping, spokesman of the Ministry of Public Security, joked yesterday during an online chat with netizens on the ministry's website.

He reminded the public to look after their possessions while traveling during the Spring Festival, especially migrant workers who are returning to their home provinces with their yearly earnings in hand.

"Our experience has shown that there are more thefts and robberies during the festival because of the huge passenger flows," Wu said.

The Ministry of Communications has estimated that some 60 million people have hit the road every day since February 10. The festival, which is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar, starts on Saturday this year.

Wu also warned of the possibility of thefts and robberies inside or near banks, as more people tend to go to banks during the festival to deposit or withdraw their savings.

As a countermeasure, the ministry has urged local police bureaus to dispatch more plainclothes police officers to financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies.

Wu said the public should remain vigilant at crowded places, too. "The number of criminal cases would drop by 60 percent if the public took basic precautions," he said.

The ministry did not provide any data on the number of thefts and robberies that occurred during the last Spring Festival, noting only that there were 3.65 million such cases in all of last year.

The ministry also offered the public some tips and suggestions to frustrate pickpockets and ensure a safe holiday:

Do not display money or valuables while traveling.

Do not overload vehicles or drive after drinking.

Pay attention to the people around you while making deposits or withdrawing money at banks.

(China Daily February 15, 2007)

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