SHOPS have backed tough action to tackle a pair of thieves.
Two-year antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) have been slapped on Lee Percival, 31, and Tammy Hedley, 23, of Station Road, Seaham, after a series of shoplifting offences in the town’s stores.
The action means the couple could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine if they breach the order.
The Asbos, granted by Peterlee magistrates, were sought by the Neighbourhood Policing Team and backed by 12 members of the Shopwatch scheme.
Percival and Hedley had already been banned from some shops – including Asda and others ins Byron Place shopping centre – but the new order has given police more clout.
Police Community Support Officer Carole Hutton, who put together the case for the civil order, hopes it will send a message to persistent offenders.
She said: “These Asbos will hopefully curb the behaviour of Percival and Hedley and make them think twice before committing an offence by breaching the order.
“It may appear harsh, but these are local businesses in the town and we need to support that by making sure that offenders know that if they continue to steal in Seaham, they will be dealt with accordingly.”
As part of the Asbo, the pair must not remain in any shop they have been asked to leave, even if it is not one they have been barred from.
Ron Guidi, of Crazy Clearance in Church Street, is among the businesses which backed the Asbos as part of the Shopwatch scheme.
“This is part of the regeneration of the street,” he said.
“We’re now working with Byron Place as one group and trying to make Seaham a better place to shop.
“It’s pleasing to know these people cannot come in, because it can be frightening to staff and customers and it makes it a better environment for us all.
“I feel as if we’re moving forward, and other shops do too.
“We’re working as a community team to bring vigour and vibrancy to the area.”
Hedley’s mother Jacqueline Hedley, 42, of Ropery Walk, was herself given an Asbo last year – banning her from Byron Place shopping centre – following conviction for a series of shoplifting offences.