Cambridge Police are advising people guard their belongings after a recent increase in larcenies throughout the city and especially Harvard Square.
In the past month, cell phones and wallets have been some of the primary targets of thieves, who police said have been striking at bars and restaurants from 8 p.m. to midnight in Harvard Square and at cafés in the square during late morning and early afternoons.
The police advisory said people often leave their belongings unattended and realize the items have been stolen as they are leaving the establishments.
Overall, Cambridge Police said the number of larcenies from persons reported in the city in 2012 was up by 14 percent from 2011 to 2012. According to statistics from the city’s BridgeStat monthly crime report, there were 367 larcenies from a person in 2012, up from 321 the year before.
Cambridge Police said they have conducted undercover operations that have led to several arrests for the thefts, and a known pickpocket from Boston was arrested on Church Street in Cambridge on Dec. 15 after attempting to steal a purse.
Police are also encouraging residents to protect their belongings by taking several precautions:
• While dining out, do not place your purse or jacket over the back of your chair. Keep your purse on your lap or between your feet with the handle around the leg of your chair or your foot.
• Do not leave a cell phone, laptop, or tablet unattended on your table.
• When shopping, do not leave your purse or wallet unattended.
• At work, put your purse or wallet in a drawer. Do not leave it on or under a desk.
• Always keep your purse closed.
• Do not keep your Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) in your purse or wallet.
• Keep a list of all credit and ID cards at home along with the card number and customer service phone number in the event you need to close the account due to theft.
More crime prevention and safety tips can be found at www.CambridgePolice.org/SafetyTips.