Shoplifting in South Shields town centre hits five-month high
Shoplifting in the centre of South Shields has hit a five-month high as police vow to work with retailers who are calling for help on the issue.
Latest figures show a five-month offending high in thefts in and around King Street and Ocean Road – with 36 reported offences in April.
Overall, shoplifting in the wider West Shields and Riverside policing area of South Tyneside, which includes South Shields centre and Simonside, where there is a Tesco store, is at a six-month high.
Only once in the previous 12 months has the figure of 66 shoplifting been higher, with 75 offences reported last October.
Phil Goodfellow, co-owner of designer menswear outlet Northern Threads, in Ocean Road, said: “It’s great that the police have a zero-tolerance campaign at Christmas, but there’s been more shoplifting in the past six weeks than I’ve known before.
“Other retailers are telling me about this – shoplifting is at a high.”
And Ahmed Khan, director of the Workwear and Schoolwear Company, also in Ocean Road, said: “It’s a real problem and very depressing for business owners.
“There’s definitely a problem with local policing. It totally disheartening when you work hard to keep your business going but you get no support when you need it.
“It would make a difference if an officer even just came around and spoke to us, but they don’t. We need a partnership approach.”
Inspector Phil Baker, of Northumbria Police, said: “We will consider a number of factors including whether there are any clear investigative opportunities, if the victim is vulnerable in any way or if they are being repeatedly targeted by offenders.
“We know that shoplifting offences can have a big impact on smaller, independent retailers and they cannot cope with losses in the same way that a larger chain store could.
“If these shops are being targeted persistently by thieves then we will work with the retailer to see what action can be taken, but at a time when demand on officers is so high, we have a duty to the public to ensure any response is proportionate.
“We do work closely with local businesses to put preventative measures in place and we have dedicated neighbourhood teams who patrol the town centre and liaise with shop owners.
“We will continue to work with them and would always encourage victims of crime to report incidents to police.”