POLICE say they are winning the war against thieves as shoplifting continues to fall in South Tyneside.
Since last month, officers have upped their patrols in the borough’s main shopping areas, including King Street in South Shields.
In the past 28 days, shoplifting offences have fallen by nine compared with the same period last year – while in the majority of cases, people are being arrested within moments of committing a crime.
Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton said: “Shoplifting is one of our priorities, and we have focused a lot of time and effort on not only arresting those who have committed crimes but also deterring offences from happening in the first place through the use of highly-visible patrols in the town centre and on the Metro system.
“While shoplifting is on the decrease, we will not become complacent and we continue to encourage both shoppers and staff to remain vigilant at all times, and to report any suspicious activity immediately to police.”
In a bid to help shop owners stay one step ahead of thieves, police will be hosting the first ShopWatch meeting of 2014 on Thursday.
The meeting has been organised by the Riverside Neighbourhood Policing Team.
Anyone who is not a member of ShopWatch but would like to join is asked to contact the policing team for more information.
Insp Sutton added: “There are huge benefits of stores being a part of the scheme. As well as regular updates on crime trends, they are also linked to the ShopWatch radio, which alerts stores to anyone who may be operating in the area. It also gives the stores a direct link to police.”
In the meantime, police are urging staff to follow advice, including training in crime prevention; installing CCTV; signs advertising CCTV is operating on the premises; and showcasing high-valued goods in lockable glass containers.
Anyone who would like more information on ShopWatch can contact police on 101.
n Meanwhile, police are hunting a shop thief who struck at Sainsbury’s in Prince Edward Road, South Shields, on Friday, January 10.
The man paid for a bottle of coke at the till, but managed to escape with a bottle of vodka.
However, after smashing it outside, he went back in to steal another. He was followed and challenged by a security guard, but ran off towards Pine Avenue. The theft happened between 1.55pm and 2.04pm.
He is described as white, 5ft 8ins tall and aged in his 40s.
He was wearing a dark beanie hat, a grey or green three-quarter-length coat, jeans and scruffy trainers.
Police are keen to speak to a man who alerted staff to the shoplifting and another woman who was present in the store at the time.
Anyone who saw the man in the street smashing the bottle, or speaking to a security guard should also come forward.
People can contact police on 101, extension 69191, quoting log number 623 10/01/14, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.