SHOPLIFTERS are on the run as police crack down on crooks thanks to pedal power.
As part of Operation Centurion, launched to combat shoplifting, Washington officers have been handed bikes to help catch thieves targeting The Galleries Retail Park.
Washington Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Stewart said: “Tackling shop theft is a priority for the team and we are working to deal effectively with it.
“Since our additional patrols began in March, we have seen a reduction of 29 per cent in these crimes, which means 10 fewer offences reported.
“Several suspected shop thieves have also been arrested and inquiries are continuing.
“We’re pleased that this operation has had a successful start and we are determined to continue with it. Our message is clear: we want shop thieves to know they’re not welcome in this area and have extra police patrols at the busier times.
“Our work with support from partners is really bearing fruit and we will continue with this initiative.
“We want shoppers to feel safe when they visit the centre and feel reassured by the additional police presence.”
As part of the operation, police have joined forces with Gentoo and The Galleries, which bought the team four bikes, with support from Halfords, to enable them to step up patrols.
Amanda Ladner, Gentoo antisocial behaviour manager, said: “At Gentoo we are committed to working with other agencies to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime across the city.
“We will continue to work with agencies such as Northumbria Police to ensure we have as many initiatives in place such as Operation Centurion to help make our communities safer.”
David McNee, The Galleries centre manager, added: “We are delighted to help fund this important initiative and ensure our neighbourhood officers have the resources to help protect our community.”
Anyone who has concerns about crime or disorder where they live should contact their Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 ex 69191.