POLICE arrested 38 suspected shoplifters during a day of action across South Yorkshire which saw homes raided and traders given advice on how to tackle the rising tide of retail crime.
Shoplifting in the county has gone up this year, with 3,158 offences recorded from April to July - 470 more than during the same period last year, a rise of 17 per cent. Police raided the homes of suspected shoplifters, seizing goods, vehicles and drugs.
Some of the suspects’ names had been provided by readers of The Star, prompted by an appeal on Thursday which saw 40 CCTV images released of people wanted in connection with thefts from supermarkets, clothes shops and service stations.
Events took place at the Lifewise Centre in Rotherham, where shopkeepers were given advice about safety and security, while officers carried out patrols using number plate recognition cameras.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt said the day of action went ‘very well’.
“We were delighted with the day,” he said.
“We’ve seen an increase in shoplifting in the first part of this year, and the police wanted to take action against those who commit these crimes.”
ACC Holt said police wanted to ‘raise awareness of the problems associated with shoplifting’.
“We’ve arrested 38 people and seized four vehicles in the traffic operation,” he said. “From the house searches we recovered some evidence including a significant amount of drugs.”
He said police also placed cardboard cut-outs of officers in shops - a deterrent known to have a psychological effect on criminals.
“They always raise a smile but they’re actually very effective at deterring and preventing people from shoplifting,” he said.
“People see shoplifting as a soft crime but it’s not. Having to deal with shoplifting and retail crime can mean the difference between a business being successful and going under.”
He said the day of action set a template for how police will tackle retail crime in the months to come.
“It demonstrated the action we intend to take in future,” ACC Holt added.
Sergeant Ian Holland took part in the raids around Arbourthorne, where he said four arrests were made.
“We had a very successful morning,” he said.
“Members of the public have been very supportive of the operation - they were pleased to see us. This one day of action is part of a long-term project.”
Sgt Holland said the appeal in The Star had boosted the force’s efforts, saying: “Without a doubt it helped. We need to thank the community and readers of The Star for giving us this information.”
In Sheffield there were 1,390 shoplifting offences from April to July, up 13 per cent on the same period last year.
In Barnsley there was a 16 per cent rise with 871 offences committed, while in Rotherham shoplifting soared by 51 per cent with 468 incidents recorded.
Doncaster saw the lowest increase in the county at just eight per cent.