A CRACKDOWN by police on thieves who target town centre stores is stepping up a gear after more than 100 thefts were reported in three months.
Extra patrols are being drafted in as officers target shoplifters carrying out crimes in South Shields.
The move is part of Northumbria Police’s Operation Soundwave campaign and is aimed at tackling opportunist crime.
In the past three months, more than 100 thefts have been reported from shops in the town centre.
To combat thieves, officers are stepping up patrols in a bid to root out the lawbreakers before they have a chance to strike, while bus and Metro stations are also being monitored to cut off any transport they may use to escape.
Shoplifters arrested by police also risk being banned from parts of the area as part of bail conditions.
Acting Inspector Nick Gjorven said: “Since the weekend, 10 people have been arrested for shop theft, showing we are taking action against thieves in the town centre.
South Shields is a busy town all year round, and it’s important thieves know there will be no let-up.
“Our officers are out in force watching thieves’ every move. We will catch them and stop them coming back into South Shields.
“We’re also monitoring CCTV systems and working closely with retailers through Shopwatch to identify thieves and get them off the streets.”
“The majority of shoplifters are first or second-time offenders, so a key part of the initiative is not only to target known offenders, but to educate others that stealing just isn’t worth it, and can have a huge impact on their future.
“Our message is simple – don’t come to South Shields and steal, or you will be arrested.”
Operation Soundwave is being supported by police and crime commissioner Vera Baird.
She said: “While I’m aware some people have turned to shoplifting in response to their personal circumstances and the downturn in the global economy, I’m also aware that there are career criminals who are targeting retailers.
“As part of my Police and Crime plan, I’ve objectives aimed at reducing crime and improving community confidence; tackling shoplifting will help towards both of these.
“The growth in first and second-time offenders would suggest it’s affecting the poorer people in our communities, and I’m pleased officers are taking the opportunity to help educate people about the bigger picture and the impact it can have on their future.”