POLICE patrols are being stepped up in Littlehampton, Rustington and Arundel today (Thursday, December 12) as part of Operation Tinsel, a Christmas campaign to crack down on festive crime throughout Arun.
Trends show that during the festive season there is a spike in the levels of retail thefts.
Sussex Police will now be targeting shoplifters in the run up to Christmas as part of the force’s seasonal campaign.
Officers will be conducting high-visibility patrols throughout the festive period to identify and target offenders.
Sergeant Neal Harvey, of Sussex Police, said: “December is likely to see a rise in shoplifting.
“Leading up to Christmas there is always pressure on us all to provide the perfect Christmas and Christmas gifts and for some that presents the temptation to steal.
“If anyone is thinking about visiting our local towns to commit crime then think again. We’re sending out a strong message to thieves that shoplifting will not be tolerated. Offenders caught stealing can expect to be dealt with robustly.”
The neighbourhood policing teams across the Arun district will work closely with shops in the town and village centres and retail parks where there will be an increased uniformed presence.
Paul Wotherspoon, Arun District Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said he was keen to support the operation.
Shoplifting is not victimless
Speaking to the Gazette, Cllr Wotherspoon noted that shoplifting is not a victimless crime. It does not just affect businesses and traders but consumers, too.
“We have to pay for shoplifting,” he said. “Stores are hit by raised insurances. So to reduce shoplifting benefits us all.
“There’s a lot of organised shoplifting across the area and it’s a problem that needs to be looked at.
“Some groups shoplift on request and on demand by whoever it may be and they are then paid for it.
“Quite often it is things like joints of meat that are taken by the thieves.”
The operation aims to provide reassurance to both the public and retailers, utilising high-visibility patrols to reduce incidents of theft and to reduce the fear of crime.
This next month will see a concerted effort from shop watch, CCTV and the police to monitor those visiting our towns and shops.
Cllr Wotherspoon added: “Arun has supported this campaign for several years.
“I don’t want to say that I would like to see all shoplifters have their hands chopped off. Obviously, there are reasons that cause people to shoplift. But shoplifting should never happen.
“There are plenty of agencies that can offer help and advice. I know budgets are tight for everyone but shoplifting is not the answer.”
Figures on UKCrimeStats.com show that since December, 2012, to October this year, there have been 192 offences of shoplifting in the BN17 area, which includes Littlehampton, Climping, Lyminster and Wick.
This is compared to just 150 instances in the BN16 area, incorporating Angmering, East Preston and Rustington, and only 13 in the BN16 area of Arundel, Ford, Slindon and Yapton, over the same period.