December’s zero-tolerance shoplifting campaign in Andover resulted in 21 reports of theft and eight arrests, a decrease in figures.
Hampshire Constabulary’s ‘Operation Scrooge’ campaign ran from December 1, until December 31 2014.
The arrests resulted in four people being charged. A further five people were spoken to by police and two people were released without further action.
Follow up investigations have successfully linked offenders to other crimes committed in the area.
Operation Scrooge has forged strong links between the Safer Neighbourhood Team in Andover and many of the local retailers; with the aim of encouraging them into identifying and reporting thefts to police.
Uniformed and plain-clothed patrols in the town centre and local retail park are believed to have assisted in making Andover a tougher place for both local and travelling criminals to commit retail thefts.
Town Centre beat officer, PCSO Pete Jones, said: “This year has seen a fall in reported thefts. I’m confident that part of this is due to the enthusiasm and professional approach the retail owners have shown throughout this year’s Operation Scrooge. Their vigilance has assisted us in apprehending several offenders and our joint approach has made Andover a very hostile place for shoplifters to operate.”
Andover Town SNT Sergeant, Glen Curtis, agrees that the response to Operation Scrooge from all retail owners and their staff, has been fantastic over the festive period.
He said; “I have no doubt that the robust joint approach taken by all retailers and my team has limited the opportunities that both local offenders and the travelling criminals have had to commit crime in the town centre and the Enham Retail Park.
“The use of the town’s CCTV system together with individual systems together within the stores has proved invaluable in identifying offenders who are often caught in the act on camera. The footage then provided valuable evidence that ultimately can be played in court if required.”
Police also targeted those that cause anti-social behaviour and with the assistance of the Chantry Centre staff, with three local youths being banned from the shopping centre.
Sgt Curtis added: “PC Noble and PCSO Pete Jones are the town beat officers who will continue to build the excellent relationship we already have with the town centre community and we look forward to working closely with them all in 2015.”
In addition to the figures, officers also arrested and charged a local man who had been reported to them on several occasions for begging in the town centre, and aim to maintain this robust approach into the New Year.
Details of the four charged with shoplifting offences between December 1 and December 31:
Dean Alexander Richardson, 32, of Camelot Close, Andover. Arrested and charged with 3 offences: Theft from Waitrose on 15/12/14, theft from Boots on 22/11/14 and fraud by false representation at Tesco on 6/12/14. He was given a four week prison sentence when he appeared in court on 19/12/14 at Basingstoke Magistrates Court. (4414046666).
Florin Ion Gheoghe, 37, of Bodicea Mews, Hounslow, London. Arrested and charged with theft of alcohol from Sainsbury’s to value of £317.77 on 17/12/14. Bailed to Basingstoke Magistrates Court on 19/01/15. (44140448815)
Iuliana Drutu Ionela, 22, of Witton Road, Aston, Birmingham. Arrested and charged with theft of console games to value of £868 from Tesco store, River Way on 18/12/14. Bailed to Basingstoke Magistrates Court on 6/01/14. (44140449997)
Elliott Henderson, 31, of St Anns Close, Andover. Arrested and charged with stealing a selection of fragrances, of a value unknown, belonging to Wilkinson Hardware Stores on 29/11/14. Bailed to Basingstoke Magistrates Court on 6/01/14. (44140429648)