More than 10,000 shoplifting offences recorded in Suffolk
More than 10,000 shoplifting offences were recorded in Suffolk during a 32-month period over the past three years, police figures have revealed.
The extent of shop thefts across the county has been exposed following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by this newspaper, which showed, on average, there were more than 330 recorded incidents every month from January 2017 to the end of August 2019.
The statistics revealed nearly a quarter (2,572) of the total shop thefts (10,806) happened in the Ipswich Central local policing area, with a further 2,000 incidents taking place in the Ipswich East, Felixstowe and Woodbridge area.
August was the month in which most shop thefts took place (1,166), followed by May (1,078) and June (1,042), although no statistics were available for the last four months of 2019.
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Terry Baxter, chairman of Ipswich Central, the Business Improvement District company for the town, said it was frustrating for businesses.
"Of course, it's a frustration," he said. "We know across the country, not just the county, that shoplifting is an ongoing problem.
"Police forces are under pressure, with perhaps fewer individuals in the High Street who had previously been there."
Mr Baxter highlighted the role the Ipswich Central Street Rangers play in protecting businesses in the town.
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"The street rangers are just fantastic," he said. "Our levy payers continually tell us how important they are.
"They have to deal with some difficult situations at times, but they consistently do a superb job for the town."
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Mr Baxter added Ipswich Central consults regularly with the police and PCC Tim Passmore, and a meeting is scheduled with Ipswich MP Tom Hunt.
In October, a group of retail security staff in Ipswich came forward to express their concerns over shoplifting in the town and the threat of violence from thieves.
Responding at the time, Superintendent Kerry Cutler said: "We work closely with retail premises, and our Design Out Crime Officers provide crime prevention advice and guidance to shop owners, which we encourage them to take on board. We would urge all businesses to take whatever measures they practically can to prevent crime.
"Additionally, the Ipswich Central Street Rangers are integral to the Business Improvement District and provide reassurance to the public. They speak regularly with shops and businesses about how to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
"There is also an extensive CCTV camera network run by Ipswich Borough Council that is an effective resource for identifying suspects, witnesses, and vehicles used in crimes.
"Periodically, operations are carried out to try to target retail crime through high-visibility and covert patrols in a bid to disrupt shoplifters, particularly persistent offenders who choose not to change their criminal behaviour.
"Shoplifting offences will be dealt with the powers available to us. Shoplifting is a crime, whatever the value of the item, and can result in a criminal conviction, which can have a serious impact on someone's life."