Police will target busy Birmingham bus routes in a bid to clamp down a huge rise in crime which happens every March.

Bag snatches, purse dipping and phone robberies on the region’s buses ran at more than 20 per cent above the yearly average this month in both the last two years.

West Midlands Police’s Safer Travel team, which is baffled as to why the March rise happens, has vowed the pattern won’t continue this year and launched an operation that will see intensive policing of city routes to reassure passengers and deter offenders. Plain-clothes officers will also be travelling on

targeted routes to identify suspects and catch thieves in the act.

Acting Sergeant Karen Taylor, from Safer Travel, said: “Most perpetrators of crime on public transport don’t have valid tickets so we’ll be working alongside revenue inspectors.

“Any fare dodgers will be spoken to by officers and checks made against police computers.

“The operation will also include increased high visibility patrols and police inputs at schools where we’ll be offering advice to pupils on keeping property safe.

“And of course we’ll be dealing with anyone found behaving anti-socially on public transport and anyone pointed out by the driver as causing problems on board.”

Almost two-thirds of bus passenger victims in March 2011 and 2012 were students, with thieves snatching phones, watches, bags and lap-tops.

Mark Babington, Safer Travel Manager for Centro, the region’s transport authority, added: “Crime on the transport network is very low. It has fallen by more than 65 per cent since 2007.

“Much of that success is down to the work of the Safer Travel Partnership and operations like the one we are carrying out this month.

In 2011 there were 916 robberies and thefts on buses, which averaged at 76.3 per month. But, in March 2011 there were 107.

In 2012 there were 655 robbery and theft offences on buses, which averaged at 54 per month. But, in March 2012 there were 62.

You can report bus crime by calling 0800 405040 or on 999.