A Christmas crackdown on crime has been launched in South Shields town centre – with cops telling crooks: “Stay away.”
Operation Holly aims to target known offenders and counter those who try to creep in below the radar from other areas to steal, assault or rob.
Police say they have assigned extra resources to bolster their presence in main retail areas – including King Street - throughout the festive season.
They insist shopkeepers and the public will see their intent to tackle a traditional seasonal crime surge through higher-profile patrols.
Sergeant Dave Stobbs, who oversees town centre policing operations, said crooks with a shopping list of Christmas goods to steal were among priority targets.
He said: “Through Operation Holly, we plan to deter criminals and chase them out of town. It is fact that crime does increase at this time of year, especially retail crime such as shoplifting and anti-social behaviour.
“This can be local criminals but also those from out of town who go to areas where they are not known.”
He added “Operation Holly is about us having a much higher profile through dedicated resources. Our priority is to engage with retailers so that we can tackle crime.
“We will engage closely with the retail community and the public so that they feel safe and have enjoyable Christmas time.”
As part of the initiative, officers will also liaise closely with CCTV operators based at South Shields Town Hall.
They hope this three-pronged partnership of police, shopkeepers and camera operatives will create the fast-response policing to keep on top of crime.