POLICE have pledged to be out in force this weekend in time for “shoplifting Saturday”.
With just one weekend to go before Christmas, thieves looking to steal some last minute gifts will be on the prowl.
Now officers have stepped up patrols in Washington to give the seasonal shoplifters the cold shoulder.
Shoppers at the Galleries and the centre’s outside retail park can expect to see more police on patrol during Saturday and Sunday.
Inspector Paul Stewart, from Northumbria Police, said: “This weekend is the last before Christmas so I expect the Galleries and retail park to be busy with people getting their last items of shopping.
“With this in mind, I’m committed to making sure it’s not an easy target for shoplifters, whether they be from Washington or out of the area.
“People might think shoplifting is a petty crime but it can have a major effect on someone’s livelihood, particularly smaller retailers. It can also make people feel more fearful of other types of crime.
“We will be taking a zero-tolerance approach which will see shoplifters arrested and their vehicles and homes searched. A lot of those arrested could find themselves in court in the run-up to Christmas.
“Officers will be wearing bodycams to collect video footage of any offences to compliment existing CCTV in the Galleries.
“I’d ask anyone who spots anything suspicious when out shopping to tell a patrolling officer, security guard or staff so that action can be taken.”