A POLICE squad dedicated to catching Doncaster’s shoplifters has racked up a major success by putting eight of the town’s top 10 offenders behind bars.
The team’s efforts have earned members a special commendation at the first awards evening for Doncaster police officers, for cutting Christmas shop theft by more than 30 per cent.
The Retail Crime Team say they are pleased the prolific offenders were forced to enjoy a Christmas lunch in prison rather than at home.
The eight men were each given sentences ranging from four to 16 months, which meant they were locked up and unable to commit any crime during the festive period - traditionally a very busy time for shoplifting for police and for retailers.
Two other suspects were also arrested and held on remand.
The Retail Crime Team targeted the individuals in a bid to reduce shoplifting over the Christmas period and, as a result of them being in prison, only 157 crimes were recorded last December, compared to 225 in December 2011.
The figure is also the lowest number of shoplifting offences recorded in a month for almost two years.
The team’s leader, Sergeant Stuart Rowse, said: “We had nine out of our top 10 offenders having turkey inside prison which helped. All were serving time for retail crimes.
“By targeting our offenders and working alongside retailers and other departments in Doncaster, we have had a positive impact and have been able to reduce retail crime over the busy Christmas period.
“We are now detecting on average three out of every four shoplifting offences in the town centre, ensuring the offenders are brought before the courts to be dealt with.
“Hopefully this will send out a clear message that South Yorkshire Police will always strive to prevent and detect any type of crime.”
At the awards ceremony, the Retail Crime Team, which also includes PCs James Cayghill, Clair Garland and Chris Greatorex, received a commendation from their commander, Chf Supt Richard Tweed.
It was awarded for ‘professional, dedicated and enthusiastic commitment to partnership-working with the retail sector’.
“The team has reduced crime within their stores while proactively targeting prolific offenders,” the commendation read. “This has delivered excellent performance on behalf of Doncaster.”
The eight men jailed for shop theft, and their sentences, were: Ben Wilshire, aged 21, from Balby, 16 weeks for theft; Stephen Smith, 23, Thorne, 28 weeks for theft; Gavin Platts, 32, Thorne, 38 weeks for theft and burglary; Jamie Lock, 27, Wheatley, 31 weeks for theft; Trevor Floy, 37, Edlington, 16 months for theft and possession of counterfeit currency; Shane Williams, 32, Balby, 25 weeks for theft.
Frank Jackson, 31, from Intake, and Richard Hurn, 37, from Balby, were each given 18 weeks for theft and have since been released.