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Plain clothes police tackle shoplifters
PLAIN clothed police are flooding stores in London and Westcliff in an effort to catch shoplifters red-handed.
The new operation, code-named Iron Maiden, aims to tackle a spate of thefts from shops along the London Road.
This will involve a series of ‘arrest’ days when officers will be given time to focus on catching these prolific offenders.
Sgt Steve Parry, of Leigh police, said: “It will include staff in plain clothes in some of our more targeted premises.
"There will also be increased stop-and-searches around the shops to try and identify and lock up some of our repeat offenders.”
One of the areas where they have particular problems is the BP garage where thieves will often steal trays of meat to fund their drug habits.
Sally Tyrie, 61, who owns Sally’s Out of Curiousity Shop welcomed the operation.
She said: “I think it’s a good idea. I’ve been here eight years and often see thieves getting chased out of the BP garage. I had a guy walk out of here over the Summer with a mantle clock tucked under his arm. I went after him and he said ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t know.’
“I told him if he ever comes near my shop again there’s CCTV and he will be caught.” In the past she has had a gold chain stolen from the store and a life-sized Betty Boop statue.
She even chased another thief who stole a giant teddy bear and managed to get it bac. He had been struggling to load it into a car in Tintern Avenue because of its size so she confronted him and he eventually hand it over. Within weeks it was stolen again.
She said:”It’s a shame that it goes on. They all sit outside Westcliff library just past my shop with their bottles of wine and do whatever they do.
“You’re never going to stamp it out but something needs to be done, they just seem to be so brazen about the whole thing.”