Police are cracking down on commercial burglaries in Worthing following a 43 per cent rise in offences.
Operation Clear Up has been set up following an increase in incidents at shops, restaurants and other businesses in the town centre, police said.
A total of 53 offences were recorded between 21 August 2018 and 21 January 2019, compared to 37 for the same period in 2017/18 – representing a 43 per cent increase, according to police.
Among them were four repeat victims, and in the majority of cases cash has been stolen from the premises, said police.
Sussex Police’s Adur, Worthing and Horsham Prevention Team has acknowledged and responded to the local community’s concerns, prompting the launch of Operation Clear Up, which is being led by PC Isobel Wimbleton, a police spokesman said.
As part of this, officers have carried out increased patrols during peak hours on peak nights of offending.
Officers are also working closely with the Worthing Town Centre Initiative, and have engaged with local businesses and provided crime prevention advice in a bid to prevent further offending.
Since the operation was launched on Thursday 14 February, there have been no business or commercial burglaries reported to police in Worthing, police confirmed.
Inspector Allan Lowe, of the Adur, Worthing and Horsham Prevention Team, said: “Break-ins and burglaries have a big impact on the business community – particularly on smaller businesses – and we will put all our efforts in place to target those responsible and bring them to justice.
“Supporting local businesses and reducing crime is very important to us, hence the priority in getting these numbers down.
“Arrests have been made in the past for town centre break-ins, however no person that we can highlight, at this stage, for being responsible for this wider series.”
A cafe and a restaurant in Worthing both suffered break-ins on Boxing Day last year.
Staff at The Orchard Cafe and at Aunty Bunny’s Hut spoke to the Herald following the incidents.
Sarah Pickles, co-owner of The Orchard Cafe, said at the time: “These break-ins have been going on for well over a year.
“I know seven businesses in the area that have been broken into in the last two months alone.
“Businesses have spent hundreds and thousands of pounds repairing and replacing things.
“These things keep happening over and over again.
“We are kind of helpless as businesses to do anything about it.
Barry Antrobus, co-owner of Aunty Bunny’s Hut, said repairing the damage to the restaurant was likely to cost thousands of pounds.
He said incidents like this could ‘destroy’ a small business.
For advice from police on how to protect your business from burglary, see our crime prevention page here.