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Christmas shoplifting crackdown hailed by police
A POLICE operation to tackle shoplifters over the Christmas period has been hailed a success.
Operation Simos, led by the Darlington town centre beat team, ran from November to Christmas Eve, and saw dozens of people arrested for shoplifting offences.
Police officers and PCSOs, some in plain clothes, worked with Darlington’s town centre wardens and CCTV operators in an intelligence-led crackdown which targeted the peak times and locations for shoplifters.
The final arrest and stop and search figures for the operation are yet to be calculated, but Sergeant Dave Barker, from the town centre beat team, said at least 50 people were arrested, with more than 45 shoplifting offences detected.
Sergeant Barker, who led the operation with Sergeant Dean Peacock, said: “We set up Simos because there is always a spike in shoplifting in the lead up to Christmas. People want presents and if they can’t afford them they go out and shoplift, or you get the people who sell items on.
“Upwards of 50 people were arrested and we used restorative justice to deal with many of them.”
One of the tactics used during Simos was the ‘surge’, where every available officer on duty is called into the town centre at the same time to increase police visibility and deter potential offenders by using stop and search on people behaving suspiciously.
Officers will use some of the tactics developed during the operation to tackle other problems that arise in the town centre at other times of year.
Sgt Barker added: “The operation was about looking at how we were going to police the town centre during the period and we changed some of our previous tactics to focus on the times when offences were particularly likely to happen.
“It’s about analysing what had happened in previous years and reacting to that.
“The surge tactic is one that can be used at different times of year, whether it be for a spike in drug problems, shoplifting or night-time trouble. If something is brought to my attention I will put an operation together to tackle it and get groups of officers out there.”