Our officers made 104 arrests for shop theft in the past four weeks – 34 in the last seven days
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Our officers arrested 34 people for shoplifting last week and 19 were subsequently charged with theft offences and other related matters.
Since 20 November, 104 arrests* have been made for shop theft across Essex and 63 people have been charged.
Our specialist Business Crime Team has been working with retailers since the sector re-opened after the pandemic lockdowns, urging them to report shop thefts and assaults and abuse of shop staff.
Under their Open for business, closed for crime initiative, our business crime officers encourage retailers and other businesses to report all crime to us – explaining how to do that and, just as importantly, what will happen when they do.
And this initiative has been successful. There was a 19.3% rise in reports of shoplifting in the year to 31 October 2023, compared with the previous 12 months.
While, during the same period, our officers solved 524 more offences – a 26.5% increase.
“These figures tell us retail staff now have more confidence to report theft and anti-social behaviour. “This enables our team to identify emerging issues and we can work with businesses to mitigate risk. “And it provides evidence of patterns of offending behaviour which can be used in court to apply for criminal behaviour orders to be imposed on persistent and prolific shoplifters.” Sergeant Christian Denning, of our Business Crime Team
Our Business Crime Team is dedicated to supporting businesses and advising them how to stop crimes from happening in the first place, providing security, staff safety, crime prevention, fraud and cyber-crime advice.
“Shoplifting is a not a low-level crime. It can have a detrimental effect on shop staff and customers, who are exposed to threats and abuse. It can push up prices, too, as retailers seek to recoup their losses. “And the proceeds of shop theft can feed into bigger networks of criminal activity, which, in turn, use that money to fund drugs supply lines and other organised crime which causes misery in our communities. “Where we identify this, we work with regional and national partners to identify those responsible and bring them to justice, just as we do with the more opportunist shoplifters.” Sergeant Christian Denning
The Business Crime Team works with police forces nationally, sharing intelligence and information with them, the National Business Crime Centre, retail chains and the independent National Business Crime Solution – the latter liaises with forces on behalf of retailers.
Six people were arrested in each of the Braintree, Harlow and Southend districts between Monday 11 December and Sunday 17 December for shop theft. Five were arrested in Tendring, four in Chelmsford, three in Colchester, two in Thurrock and one each in the Epping Forest and Uttlesford districts.
Adults we arrest for acquisitive crimes, such as shop theft, are required to take a saliva test for cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin when they come into custody. And six of those arrested for shop theft last week tested positive for these Class A drugs. In the past four weeks, the total is 18.
Christian says they will be referred to a specialist drug treatment programme, with one of the three drugs treatment services we work with.
“People often steal to fund their drug habit so we want to prevent their need to commit theft in the first place by turning them away from drug use. “So, not only do we deal with offenders through the court system, we also refer them to partners who will work with them to address the causes of their offending.”
Business crime officers also review every shoplifting arrest and, where it is believed a criminal behaviour order (CBO) would be justified to help to protect retailers and their staff from persistent abuse and stealing, they work with local investigating officers to apply to the courts for them.
CBOs can include conditions to get offenders the support they need to change their addictive behaviour and also prevent offenders from entering stores they have been targeting, thus protecting retail staff and customers.
Just last week, a man was arrested and charged with nine thefts by officers from the Braintree Town Centre Team.
Stores had supplied their CCTV footage after reporting the thefts and officers identified him from the footage.
The day after his arrest, the Braintree man was convicted at court. As well as an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, magistrates imposed a CBO, banning him from nine shops in the town for three years.
It is an offence to breach the terms of a CBO and courts can impose a maximum sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine, or both, for an adult convicted of breaching them.
Cases involving seven people arrested last week are still being investigated. Two people received cautions and no further action was taken against five.
* Arrests for shop theft. This relates to the number of arrests our officers have made. A person may have been arrested more than once for theft from a shop during the time period. And they may have been arrested for more than one offence.
Find out more about the work of our Business Crime Team and how you can report crimes against your business, your shop and your staff.
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