Crackdown on prolific shoplifters travelling to Portsmouth

CCTV pictures of Portsmouth shoplifters will be shared across the county
CCTV pictures of Portsmouth shoplifters will be shared across the county

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WAR is being waged on shoplifters as businesses crackdown on thieves.

CCTV of unknown criminals targeting Portsmouth will be shared across the county to help identify offenders and bring them to justice.

It’s always a worry and it affects how we have to arrange our store, staffing and extra costs in extra levels of security

Alistair Smyth

Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership has a database of 1,000 images of criminals.

Now the scheme will gain access to around 1,500 images from similar networks in Southampton, Winchester and Basingstoke.

In turn, those schemes could help put names to faces of thieves unknown in Portsmouth but who are already operating in their areas.

Alistair Smyth, manager of Music Room, in Commercial Road, said his shop recently suffered two thefts of guitars worth £700 and £800.

‘There’s been two cases of people stealing large ticket expensive items, two guitars that have been lifted and people have gone straight to the train station,’ he said.

‘It’s always a worry and it affects how we have to arrange our store, staffing and extra costs in extra levels of security.

‘Having a system that can help stores as much as possible across Hampshire and identify people that are professional shoplifters more so than opportunists will be a really great asset.’

Those behind the image sharing say it will help shops inform police and lead to prosecutions of shoplifters.

Chris Caesar, crime manager, said: ‘Knowing who our prolific thieves are helps our retailers become more vigilant, and of course sharing that information with other partnerships helps their retailers, too.’

Around 49 firms belong to Portsmouth BCRP.

Chief Inspector Patrick Holdaway, head of Hampshire police’s business crime initiatives: ‘We work closely with local business communities and BCRPs, and share intelligence with them.

‘Anything that helps identify criminals, particularly travelling or professional shoplifters is invaluable, and enables us to focus our resources where they can achieve the most benefit.’

He said the legality of sharing the information had been checked by Hampshire police and Thames Valley Police’s information management unit.

Littoralis Ltd is running the software, called Cross-DISC and hopes it will change how thieves are policed.

Mauren Frost, deputy chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Shoplifting impacts on prices, because prices have to account for loss of stock and it can have a negative impact on staff morale.’