Images of the top 30 shoplifters will be distributed throughout shops in Belfast as part of a new scheme which aims to stop the loss of millions of pounds to businesses here each year.
The police, Belfast City Centre Management and 68 traders have teamed up to launch the Hot Alert Retail Offender initiative in a bid to reduce theft in the city’s shops.
The top 30 shoplifters are thought to cause 80 per cent of all retail theft in Belfast.
Police will provide the stores with images of the most prolific thieves. Staff there can then report the presence of the thieves to Musgrave CCTV room who will immediately alert the city centre policing team who may be able to stop and search the suspects.
The chairman of Belfast City Centre Management, Billy McGivern, said the scheme provide peace of mind to city centre traders and shoppers alike.
“We are confident that this fast response will deter potential offenders from visiting Belfast city centre with the intent to commit crime. This is another part of our efforts to make Belfast the safest shopping destination in Northern Ireland,” he said.
Inspector Robert Murdie of the City Centre Policing Team said the scheme is being introduced specifically to target determined and organised thieves.
“There are several types of shoplifter operating in our towns and cities: opportunistic thieves, not readily distinguishable from ordinary customers, who steal items for personal use; more determined thieves, usually operating alone, who steal small quantities of goods to sell, often to support drug habits; and groups of organised thieves who steal large quantities of merchandise for resale.
“The Hot Alert system which is part of the Belfast Retail Crimewatch partnership and applies to members of this partnership, seeks to target police, retailers and security staff to collectively focus on the last 2 groups of thieves.
“These groups constitute those who cause greatest harm to the retailers in Belfast.
“This scheme is further complemented by the Shop Safe initiative which uses the City Centre policing team to deliver specialised training to retail staff aimed at promoting awareness of latest crime trends and developing greater links with the policing team.”