ALMOST 70 people have been arrested as part of a festive police campaign to target shoplifters.
The Northumbria Police crackdown, which launched at the end of November, has seen 66 people arrested in Sunderland for shop thefts since it began.
Officers say the operation has resulted in a reduction in shoplifting offences compared to the weeks preceding the launch of the operation, while the detection rate stands at almost 80 per cent - meaning four out of every five offences are uncovered.
The crackdown was launched as part of Operation Soundwave - which is aimed at tackling those involved in theft and burglary during the festive season.
Northumbria Police temporary assistant chief constable Gary Calvert said: “The operation has so far been successful with hundreds of arrests and a reduction in offences across the force.
“Activity has included officers working on the Metro system each day to identify suspects and prevent people from travelling to commit crime, while the Mounted section have been providing extra visibility in shopping areas.
“The aim was to reduce shop thefts during a time when our towns and cities are crowded with Christmas shoppers and when shop thefts historically rise and we’ve so far seen positive results.
“The activity will continue over the coming days and into January as the sales continue.”
Activity has also included extra high profile and plain clothes patrols to prevent thefts from taking place.
Officers have also been working with retailers and shop security staff, as well as using CCTV and Shopwatch schemes to identify suspects and take action.
Known offenders have been targeted throughout and warned about the operation and anyone arrested has, where appropriate, been given bail conditions preventing them from entering town and city centres.
T/ACC Calvert added: “People sometimes view shoplifting as a victimless crime which doesn’t have much of an impact on the community but that is certainly not the case.
“Every time something is stolen the retailer loses money and as a result, this can mean prices go up or, worse, people lose their jobs.
“I’d like to reassure people that operations are continuing to ensure our towns and cities remain a safe place for people to visit.”