Charity shops unite to thwart thieves

A PENSIONERS' group last night welcomed plans by charity shops in Colchester to unite in a bid to tackle thieves who are regularly striking on their premises.

Elliot Furniss

A PENSIONERS' group last night welcomed plans by charity shops in Colchester to unite in a bid to tackle thieves who are regularly striking on their premises.

Barbara Shillabeer, of Borough Senior Support, said pickpockets were targeting older customers because charity shops had less stringent security measures than many larger stores.

She backed plans for 17 charity shops in the town to work closely with each other and the police in order to take action as quickly as possible when suspects are spotted.

She said: “It's brilliant. I know personally of quite a few people who have had their money stolen. They go and pick up their pensions and before they know it their money has been taken out of their handbag.”

The town centre shops have created a system where they will be calling ahead and warning each other of suspicious behaviour and repeat offenders.

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This is the first time something formal has been put into place for the charity shops and the group will meet regularly to discuss any issues arising.

Irena Kanafoyska, manager of St Helena Hospice charity shop in St Botolph's Street, said the idea to pull together was “very powerful”.

She said: “One of the main problems we have is that there is currently a scattered effort from the charity shops in Colchester with a lack of information.

“Once we have all pulled together, sharing information, there will be no where for the thieves to go.”

Sgt Dave Gillies said it was a “great opportunity” for the charity shops to join together and form a bigger voice by helping each other to reduce anti-social behaviour.

He said: “We get a lot of incidents in and around charity shops and by having regular meetings with each other we can work out how to reduce these crimes.”

Each charity shop will be given the opportunity to be visited by the crime reduction officer, Colin Stiff, to assess the layout and to make any suggestions on how crime can be reduced in the shop.

It has also been suggested that each of the charity shops release a member of staff to train as a police special constable who would be free for one day a month to patrol the charity shops in Colchester.

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