EAST Grinstead police have been on a ‘shoplifting’ spree to challenge the effectiveness of security measures put in place by the town’s retailers.
They targeted 15 shops and supermarkets around the town centre and made off with goods totalling £753.90 from 13 of them.
Only staff at Sainsburys and Superdrug challenged officers trying to leave their premises with goods they hadn’t paid for.
The four plain clothes officers’ haul included hair straighteners and a shaver worth £120, a wax jacket costing £75 and £150 of alcohol.
The initiative was to raise awareness about shoplifting and encourage shops to sign up to the new East Grinstead ShopWatch scheme.
The scheme, which is an initiative by the Town Council working with the police, is being funded by the Mid Sussex Joint Action Group which will make it free for businesses to sign up to for the first year.
Among the weaknesses found by officers in the present security arrangements put in place by local businesses were security tags and stickers which didn’t activate alarms at the doors, and two instances where they did trigger alerts, but where police officers were still allowed to walk out unchallenged.
Police Sergeant Graeme Prentice said: “This operation was aimed at educating the local businesses about their own security measures and procedures and the general consensus was positive.
“Constructive feedback was given to stores following the Operation, and the Shopwatch website will go live in November allowing the shops to view it through their laptops and hand held devices.
“It will provide businesses with discussion topics on security, information on relevant convicted shoplifters, and the chance to share CCTV etc. This will hopefully raise awareness within the town and create positive interaction between local businesses.
“The Website will be updated regularly by the Police in conjunction with Chichester Business Against Crime, and can be accessed through the Town Council Website secured through the data protection act.
“Police hope that the site will be a welcome addition to the town and that after the first year businesses will agree to continue funding the site at a reasonable cost.”