POLICE are targeting persistent shoplifters after figures revealed thieves took goods worth more than £100,000 from city retailers in the past year.
Three shop thefts were committed in the Portsmouth city centre every day on average as officers battled to drive down the crime.
The number of shoplifting crimes fell by seven per cent year-on-year from 1,197 to 1,104.
But police have boosted their efforts in a bid to reduce the crimes even further.
The drive is paying off, with the number of shop thefts reported in January and February this year falling by 16 per cent to 140, compared with 167 in the same period the previous year. The value of goods stolen almost halved, but is still nearly £11,000.
Sergeant Rob Sutton from Portsmouth City Centre Unit said: ‘We have targeted a handful of specific individuals who are our persistent and prolific shoplifters.
‘They would target five or six stores in a couple of hours every day – not just in Portsmouth but in other areas as well.
‘We have put them in prison and results have shown that in January and February we have had a 16 per cent reduction in shoplifting in the city centre.’
Figures show more than half of all shoplifting offences in the city centre – 575 – were committed at five stores.
Police have not identified the stores in question as they are working with them to help reduce the number of crimes being committed there.
But they say those shops lost almost £44,000 of good between them.
Sgt Sutton added: ‘We are working in partnership to help prevent further targeting of these stores.
‘These are busy shops. Statistically they will report more thefts because there is more footfall going through the store.
‘The top five are actually the most successful at catching people.’
Police are working closely with the Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership and retailers to reduce shoplifting offences further.
Many retailers are members of the PBCRP’s radio link scheme, which provides them with a direct link to the organisation, other businesses and the police in case of trouble.
Businesses are also offered training in how to deal with conflicts and spot fake bank notes.
Other steps taken by police include banning 10 prolific offenders from city shopping areas. Many of them preyed on stores to fuel their drug addictions.