Plea for help against shoplifters

Wednesday, 5 July, 2006

A TRADER who claims her store is being targeted by 'steal-to-order' thieves has called on the police to supply pictures of prolific shoplifters.
Bury St Edmunds once had a Shopwatch scheme where traders would meet and discuss various issues and where the police would provide photographs of repeat offenders.
But since the scheme was wound down just over a year ago, traders in the historic market town have not been receiving pictures of known shoplifters.
A number of town centre traders yesterday joined forces in calling for photographs of shoplifters to be handed over, so that staff could all be made aware of faces they should be looking out for.
Bury police said it welcomed the idea of revisiting the issue of supplying pictures as it was committed to protecting shopkeepers from thieves.
Giselle Roadley-Battin, store manager at Palmers Department Store, said the home section of the store had fallen victim to thieves stealing to order.
She said: 'We used to get mug shots and they were shown to staff during training. It worked wonders but we are now just not in the know.
'I would love to plaster pictures all over the staff room. I think they should be there for staff to be aware. We don't have a problem in the fashion department but they steal to order in the home store.
'We do try and prevent it and I am very proud of my staff.'
She added that her staff's powers to refuse entry to a suspected thief or to follow them very closely around the store would be greatly increased - and more justified - if such actions were based on photographs provided by the police.
Mary McIntosh, manager at the book store Ottakar's, in the Buttermarket, agreed and called for pictures to be provided by the police to help with staff training and awareness.
She said: 'I would be slightly reluctant to have a naming and shaming campaign but I would welcome pictures of offenders to show to staff.'
Bury MP David Ruffley has called on the police to resume the supply of pictures to town retailers.
He said: 'Local shop owners and managers are frustrated and rightly so. These shoplifting criminals pose a threat to local businesses. Staff need to be aware of who the repeat shoplifters in the town are.'
Inspector Adrian Calton, of Bury police, said: 'Bury St Edmunds Police launched Shopwatch in 2002. The aim of this was to keep all shops within the town communicating with each other and with the police in a bid to reduce retail crime and gather intelligence regarding regular shoplifters.
'One part of the scheme was to distribute photographs of regular offenders to a nominated person at each location, in accordance with the Retail Crime Initiative.
'The main aim of this depended upon shops joining the scheme and supporting the initiative. Although initial interest in this scheme was positive the majority of stores, despite attempts from the Community Support Officer, failed to support it and as such it ceased to run as we would have liked.
'We fully support the proposal by David Ruffley MP to revisit this initiative and would be happy to look into re-supplying photographs to retailers so long as local retailers are committed to joining and supporting this initiative.'