South Holland traders ready for pre-Christmas shoplifting surge

ShopWatch and PubWatch coordinator Stuart Brotherton

Traders in Spalding and Holbeach are on guard for the traditional, pre-Christmas surge in shoplifting.

Retired Spalding police sergeant Stuart Brotherton, who coordinates the anti-theft ShopWatch scheme in both towns, says: “It’s getting to the time of year where we see a noticeable increase.

“Everybody’s feeling the impact of retail crime, more so now than ever before because a lot of shops are running on restricted numbers of staff.”

Stuart takes issue with an official Government line that describes shoplifting as a “victimless crime” because he knows traders lose out and all of us, as customers, help foot the bill by paying higher prices for goods.

He says drug issues, unemployment and various social factors play a part in retail crime that collectively costs the UK at least £700million a year.

Shop theft by “customers” accounts for around three-quarters of the thefts.

Stuart says the Government needs to focus on repeat offenders and deal with the root causes of shoplifting.

Spalding has 35 ShopWatch members and 25 offenders are currently banned from all of their premises. Bans range from a year to an indefinite period. Holbeach has around a dozen members with four offenders banned.

Stuart says bans work well but partnership working with the police and other agencies is the only way “to make a dent in this retail cancer”.

Partnership means:

• Retailers employing preventative measures (including things like using quality CCTV, keeping “desirable” items away from store entrances and reporting crimes promptly to police)

• An effective police response where there is a known suspect and supporting evidence

• Local authority support and town CCTV

Most ShopWatch members carry digital radios linked 24/7 to South Holland’s CCTV control room at Boston.

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