VIDEO: Police and partners raid shops in business crime crackdown
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Pictured: PD Cooper
Sussex Police carried out a campaign of engagement and enforcement activity as part of the national Safer Business Action Week.
The force deployed dedicated resources to all districts across the county in order to emphasise the message that business crime will not be tolerated.
Officers also made a number of arrests in connection with the week of action.
Hundreds of tobacco products and drug paraphernalia were discovered in concealed compartments as police raided shops suspected of supplying illegal products.
The items, which included oversized e-cigarettes, suspected counterfeit tobacco, bongs, grinders and pipes, were seized as part of an operation involving Sussex Police and Trading Standards.
Acting on intelligence, officers executed simultaneous Misuse of Drugs Act warrants at the two shops in Rowlands Road, Worthing, on Wednesday 18 October.
With the assistance of specialist search dogs, they discovered a walk-in fridge with a false rear wall, a wall tile operated by a magnetic strip and a wooden shelf which opened up to reveal a storage unit. Investigations into the two premises are ongoing.
The operation formed part of the Safer Business Action Week, aimed to prevent and detect offences involving retailers, and to take robust action against offenders.
Working with partner agencies, police conducted numerous activities across the week, which ran from Monday 16 October to Sunday 22 October, including:
The deployment of dedicated resources across the county
Welfare visits to dozens of national chain stores and independent shops
Interventions with known shoplifters, which led to arrests or words of advice being issued
Engagement stalls set up in towns around the county
Interactions with the public regarding their concerns
A networking event with the Business Crime Reduction Partnership
High-visibility patrols aimed to deter crime and provide community reassurance
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and APCC lead for business and retail crime, Katy Bourne, said: “Business crime matters in Sussex which is why I welcome the added focus this week of action has brought. Sussex Police are bringing real grip to tackling business crime across our county which is visible in the excellent results from this week. I also launched the Safer in Sussex Business Partnership in 2020 and am pleased to say that our Sussex-wide partnership continues to break significant ground in making our shops and high streets safer.”
Chris Neilson, the Sussex Police force lead for business crime, said: “I know how hard everyone works to address business crime and antisocial behaviour across Sussex, and I am encouraged by the huge amount of work that happens day in, day out, to support those who are victims of crime.
“Our officers, including PCSOs, worked tirelessly alongside our partners to visit countless businesses over the week to provide advice, support and education.
“Our week of action has been welcomed by the business community, who have given us some really positive feedback. However, I acknowledge that offences such as shoplifting and violence against shop workers continue to be an issue nationally – not just in Sussex – and we will continue to work closely with our business community to tackle this.
“That’s why I would urge anyone who is a victim of business crime to come forward. You can report it online or via 101, or call 999 in an emergency.”
These are among some of the arrests made during the week of action:
A well-known offender was identified by police on patrol in Brighton on Monday 16 October.
Michael Murray, 35, of Lower Rock Gardens, was linked to a number of offences across Brighton and Hove, with the total value of items stolen reaching hundreds of pounds.
He was subsequently arrested and charged with 18 counts of theft and 18 counts of breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order.
He appeared before Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 23 October, where he was remanded in custody for sentencing on 20 November.
Prolific offender Daryl Swann has been jailed, after he was spotted by police on patrol in Western Road, Brighton, on Tuesday 17 October.
The 35-year-old, of Oriental Place, Brighton, was sought in connection with the theft of £95 worth of goods from Holland and Barrett in North Street on 8 September, and the theft of £150 worth of goods from The White Company in East Street on 14 September.
He was arrested and charged with two counts of theft, and breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order, which had prohibitions not to enter a number of stores, including The White Company.
He was remanded in custody and appeared before Brighton Magistrates’ Court the following day, where he was jailed for four weeks.
Police witnessed a woman taking £250 worth of clothes from H&M in Priory Meadow shopping centre, in Hastings, on Thursday 19 October.
Katie Green, 37, of Cloudesley Road, St Leonards, was subsequently arrested and charged with theft, and has been bailed with conditions to appear before Hastings Magistrates’ Court on 29 November.
A 34-year-old woman was witnessed stealing two bottles of Prosecco from M&S in Terminus Road, Eastbourne, on Thursday 19 October. She was given a Community Resolution.
With the support and endorsement of the Policing Minister and Home Office, Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, has also convened a national business and police partnership called Pegasus, which combines law enforcement with industry knowledge to tackle serious organised retail crime.
She added: “Pegasus will be a game-changer in the fight against retail crime providing, for the first time ever, an accurate national picture of the organised crime gangs, from local families to cross border criminals, driving organised shop theft across England and Wales.
“13 of the country’s top retailers will agree ways to capture information that can be shared and analysed to create intelligence packages for police forces to target and track perpetrators. I expect to see results early next year when Pegasus becomes fully operational and am grateful to our major retailers and businesses for their support to policing nationally.”
Mr Neilson added: “Sussex Police welcomes the Pegasus initiative which is a significant step forward to building intelligence of organised retail crime across the UK and putting in place the right mechanisms so that retailers and policing can focus efforts to bring such gangs to justice.”
You can find more advice and support about business crime on our website here.