POLICE aim to put shoplifters in the spotlight as a crime crackdown in South Tyneside gathers pace.
Operation Soundwave, originally launched in the summer, aimed to drive down opportunist crimes, including theft.
Now, as part of a second phase, shopping centres across South Tyneside are to be given even more attention.
Over the coming weeks and months, shoppers will see an increase in uniformed police in the borough’s main retail areas, and on the Metro system, in a bid to stop thieves in their tracks.
Anyone arrested will run the risk of being banned from South Tyneside, or have their movements restricted as part of bail conditions.
They will also face having their homes searched.
In July, police joined forces with Northumbria Probation Trust and South Tyneside Council to launch the Spotlight on Shoplifting initiative.
The scheme came after figures revealed that shoplifting makes up 11.5 per cent of the total crime committed in South Tyneside.
Many of the thefts are carried out by repeat offenders.
Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton said: “Work already being carried out as part of the Spotlight on Shoplifting will help to enhance Operation Soundwave 2. We have always had a close working relationship with the probation service and the local authority, and together we will not hesitate to take swift and positive action against those who repeatedly come to South Tyneside and commit crimes – which could include recommending jail sentences.
“Letters have already been sent out to known offenders, as a reminder of the consequences of committing further offences, so they have been warned.”
As part of Operation Soundwave 2, stores forming part of the Shopwatch scheme will be visited regularly.
Shops regarded as ‘at risk’ are being given increased attention, and police aim to make extensive use of CCTV cameras.