QUICK-THINKING staff tracked down a shoplifter after spotting him stealing a £205 top on CCTV.
Manager Paul Khatkar was shocked to see the thief captured on camera stuffing the Gant cardigan into his own clothes and walking out the shop.
But after finding out his name on the grapevine, Mr Khatkar tracked down Desmond Clarke – uncovering a 2009 article in The News all about Clarke's Caribbean restaurant The Jerk Pan in Southsea.
Armed with identification details of the thief he handed over the information to police – who have praised the shop’s diligence that helped secure a conviction.
Acting Sergeant Dan McGarrigle leads Project Stark, a police team cracking down on city centre crime.
He said: ‘It was pleasing to read that the defendant was dealt with robustly at court for the theft from Escape Menswear and we’d like to thank the store with their assistance in providing the evidence to secure the conviction.’
Mr Khatkar, manager at Escape Menswear in Spring Street, said: ‘I had a name and then set about cross-referencing it and the article came up about The Jerk Pan – I put two and two together.
‘I strongly believe that we wouldn’t have got the result that we did without that information.
‘If we hadn’t have had the support of the local news we wouldn’t have found him.’
CCTV footage shows how Clarke, 55, of Highland Road, Eastney, looking at the camera before stuffing the top in his own clothes.
This month Clarke, who is under a suspended sentence for burglary, admitted the March 6 theft and Portsmouth magistrates ordered him to pay £205 compensation.
Cops on the team saw a 20 per cent drop in shoplifting in the six months since the project started.
Sgt McGarrigle added: ‘We have seen an increase in public confidence from the business community within the area and we have seen a decrease in crime and anti-social behaviour since the project started in January.’
Violent incidents resulting in injuries are down by 42 per cent, criminal damage by 76 per cent and public order incidents by 45 per cent.
Anti-social behaviour has dropped by 17 per cent.
Portsmouth’s Cascades centre manger, Andrew Philip, said: 'At Cascades we’ve seen first-hand the hard work that the police have been doing in clamping down on shoplifting in Portsmouth.
You can see the increased police presence across the city during peak trading times and that is greatly appreciated.