A NEW shopwatch scheme is set to drive down crime in Spalding after claims shoplifting was rife in the town.
An early announcement of the scheme, Shopwatch Spalding, followed a call to the Lincolnshire Free Press claiming shoplifting was rife in the town and highlighting a specific crime at Heron Foods where thieves filled two trollies with the same goods and only one would be paid for, while the receipt would be handed to the accomplice, who could then leave without paying.
The caller claimed: “Shoplifting is rife in the town – it’s out of control and the police can’t cope because there’s not enough CCTV cameras around town to catch the criminals.”
Police and shop owners have denied the problem is as bad as claimed – with a staff member at the town centre frozen food store saying they now knew who the local culprits were and shoplifting hadn’t been as bad for the past year since Eastern Europeans who committed crimes were deported.
Insp Chris Davison said: “Shoplifting is by no means on the top of our list of priorities or one of our rising crimes. We have been working with CRASH, which has organised a radio alert scheme to warn other shop owners of incidents, and this has helped bring crime figures down significantly.”
However, there is still evidence of shoplifting in the town and this has resulted in a merger between CRASH and the local Chamber of Commerce.
President Phil Scarlett said: “I was horrified on the recent town tidy-up Chamber members did to see the number of security and price tags littering Broad Street car park and down the path at the side of Hills department store. That would suggest shoplifting is happening.
“The Chamber is in the process of taking over CRASH and relaunching this as Shopwatch. We have been able to substantially reduce the cost of radios because Chambers nationally are running similar schemes and it is hoped that this will encourage more retailers to become involved.”
Darryl Simpson, managing director of Hills which has been part of CRASH for the past five years, said: “The merger will help more shops to be able to keep in touch. We have found it an invaluable service.”
One business that won’t be investing in the scheme is David Carroll of Spalding Mobility in Holland Market.
He said: “I think the scheme is a great idea, but I don’t have a problem with shoplifters. The getaway vehicles aren’t fast enough.”