Scheme makes it harder to shoplift

PUBLISHED: 11:54 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:54 12 February 2014

Archant

Shoplifters are finding it increasingly difficult to steal in Exmouth, say police.

This is despite the numbers of reported thefts in the town centre increasing by 19 per cent in the last year.

The police operational year finishes in March and so far there have been 157 reported thefts in the area, which also includes Budleigh, surrounding villages and Ottery St Mary.

But police say that much of the increase is down to traders ‘having the confidence’ to report crimes thanks to the ShopWatch scheme.

The scheme is a network linking the police and shops by a radio system.

It allows shop owners and the police to exchange information if known thieves are operating in the area or to flag up people acting suspiciously.

Inspector Antonia Weeks confirmed at the town council meeting: “There is an increase in shoplifting in the town centre. This is in part due to an increase in activity in what we have been doing with ShopWatch.

“We are confident that a small number of offences are committed by a small number of local offenders, who are known to us.

“So we can act pretty swiftly to prevent Exmouth from becoming a destination for thieves, which was always my worry.

“If we went soft on Exmouth we would be seen as a soft touch and encourage people to come to Exmouth to steal. I’m glad to say that’s not the case.”

She added: “Shoplifting is a concern but not a major problem – the numbers are quite low and it is getting harder and harder for people to shoplift.”

PCSO Karen Capey said: “There are three or four prolific offenders who steal goods from the town centre to fund their habit.

“In the town centre they tend to be high value electrical goods, and if enough evidence is gathered we can then apply for a Crasbo [Crime Anti Social Behaviour Order]. This could ban individuals from the town centre or from individual shops.

“Most of the shops know who their most prolific offenders are.”

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