POLICE have excluded 83 shoplifters from stores across Sunderland city centre.
The persistent thieves are also being shut out of retail parks across the city under the Shopwatch scheme.
Store managers today welcomed moves to exclude those who are persistently shoplifting, including many who have been caught on multiple occasions.
Anyone arrested and charged with shoplifting will now receive strict bail conditions banning them from the city centre and other retail parks in Sunderland.
Persistent offenders will be given exclusion notices banning them from city centre premises for up to 12 months.
Compared to this time last year, shoplifting in the city centre has reduced by 19 per cent.In January, there were 36 arrests for shoplifting and six new people excluded.
Julie Dumbar, manager of Home Bargains in Blandford Street, said: “Shopwatch is really good for passing on information about people we’re looking for, or know are around town.
“With our shop being out on Blandford Street, communication has especially improved with shops in The Bridges. We operate a radio system that enable us to pass on to, and receive information from, other stores and the police.” Andy Dennison, store manager at WH Smith in the city centre, said: “We always know what’s going on now, and can pick up those that are not welcome in the town.
“Just the sound of the radios clicking away is a deterrent for potential shoplifters. It’s worthwhile. It does make a difference, and it gives you some piece of mind.”
Mick Hall, Neighbourhood Inspector for the city centre, said: “We have extra patrols throughout the city centre shopping areas.
“We’re also working closely with retailers to identify thieves, offer crime prevention advice and ask them to make sure their CCTV systems are up and running correctly as they are a vital evidence gathering tool.
“Shoplifting is no less important than any other crime and we will always do all we can identify and apprehend those responsible.”