EXTRA police officers will be on patrol in a shopping centre during the next 24 hours in a bid to catch any last-minute Christmas thieves.
Shoplifters and pickpockets are being warned to keep their hands to themselves as police increase their presence at The Galleries, in Washington.
And anyone caught shoplifting has been warned they will pay the price.
Officers have also pledged to crack down on car criminals and target those breaking into vehicles parked in the centre’s car parks.
Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Barrett, who covers the area, said: “We want people to have a safe Christmas and not have it ruined by the minority who are intent on stealing, whether it’s from a shop, someone’s purse or the presents they’ve just bought.
“Officers are carrying out regular patrols in and around The Galleries, not only to deter those thinking of stealing but to catch those that do and make sure they face the consequences.
“People work hard all year round to be able to enjoy Christmas and it’s simply not right that someone else comes along and steals from them.
“Not only are we working targeting shoplifters but all types of criminals to make sure our residents have a crime free festive period.
“As always though, we would urge people to be mindful of their own safety and the steps they can take to help stop themselves from being a victim of these thieves.”
Similar patrols are also running today and tomorrow at The Bridges, in Sunderland city centre.
Northumbria Police is running its acquisitive crime campaign, Don’t Let Thieves Steal Your Christmas, aimed at targeting thieves in the run-up to the festive period.
For more information on the campaign and crime prevention advice, visit www.northumbria.police.uk