Armed police are standing guard outside shops across South Yorkshire as a deterrent to criminals planning robberies.
Officers are working with security firms delivering cash to stores or collecting money to offer an additional deterrent to would-be robbers in a police operation codenamed Monarch.
Police chiefs believe that if criminals spot armed officers outside shops they are planning to rob, they will abandon their plans.
But South Yorkshire Police is warning offenders not all officers carrying out extra patrols over the festive seasons – a traditionally busy time for cash-in-transit vans – will be wearing uniforms.
In addition to visiting stores where vans are due to be making deliveries, officers will also follow the vans as they are being driven around, in an other attempt at making criminals think twice about targeting them.
Operation Monarch is running for the fifth consecutive year.
Chief Inspector Caroline Rollitt said: “Under the operation, police use a combination of tactics to deter and capture offenders.
“These include deploying both covert and overt police resources, together with specialist firearms teams to keep track on security vans during this vulnerable time.
“Cash-in-transit vans are selected and followed to their drop-off points.
“This makes potential armed robbers think twice about attacking cash vans in our area.
“The message to criminals is clear – if you intend to commit such offences in South Yorkshire you will be apprehended and receive a substantial prison sentence.”
South Yorkshire Police said the force provides a ‘high-priority service to all cash carriers and their employees’ all year round, but ‘this service is intensified over the Christmas period, when such robberies traditionally occur’.
Armed officers have been seen outside the post office branch in Charles Street in Sheffield city centre and Co-op stores in Stannington, Southey Green and Dronfield in recent days,
Anyone with information about those involved in cash-in-transit crime is asked to call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.