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We're winning the war against shoplifters
THE hard-fought battle against seasonal shoplifters has been won in Worcester city centre, claim independent shop owners.
A number of independent shops are reporting they saw no increase in theft from their stores over the Christmas period.
Jack Hince, co-ordinator of anti-crime group Worcester CityNet, said they had seen a reduction in travelling criminals who target a city centre for one day, making off with thousands of pounds of merchandise.
Members of CityNet believe its system of sharing information throughout member shops via walkie-talkies has been a vital tool in its fight against shoplifting.
Danny Young, owner of Fragrance House on Pump Street, said he had seen a significant decrease in attempts of shoplifting this year.
He said: “We did expect to see a big rise in shoplifting over Christmas but there has actually been a decrease.
“The radio system is having an impact. I think people are beginning to realise that there is good CCTV and a radio network means there is a higher chance of being caught.
“People who are known to take things from shops are being identified as they come into town and move around so they know Worcester is shoplifter unfriendly.”
Mr Hince said CityNet’s 111 members were a mix of small independent and national stores.
He said: “It has been very, very successful year on year and we are the most successful CityNet scheme in the Midlands. “We are obviously having an effect but there are persistent criminals who need to steal for different reasons and are so desperate they will steal whatever.
"But what we are noticing is a reduction of travelling offenders from outside the area targeting Worcester so the message is getting around.”
Rick Knowles, of Knowles of Worcester, Broad Street, said it was a combined effort between the bigger stores with dedicated security staff and smaller independent which has had an effect on offending.
He said: “The bigger stores have security officers who are going around marking out known shoplifters.
“Your ears do prick up when they say they are coming toward Broad Street.”
High street giant Marks and Spencer is also playing its part. A spokesman for the store said: “M&S is committed to Worcester’s retail community which is why we work closely with neighbouring retailers to undertake initiatives that help protect the city centre.”