Police plan to step up patrols at pickpocketing, bag-snatching and shoplifting black spots after a sharp rise in such cases in the first two months of this year. Bag-snatching surged by 38.8 per cent to 143 cases, compared to the first two months of last year, according to police figures. Armed robberies rose by a third to 12 cases, incidents of pickpocketing increased by 16.4 per cent to 135 and shoplifting cases soared by 22 per cent to 1,429. Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Shuk-yee yesterday said the increases were related to the economic downturn. 'The present economic downturn and unemployment have prompted some people to seek quick cash,' she said. But Mrs Ip said the rise could not be regarded as a trend, as the figures only accounted for two months of the year. Overall crime figures increased by 2.8 per cent during the period, while violent crimes rose by about 0.9 per cent.