Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Brighton shop owners tackling thieves
Brighton's traders have taken ownership of the city’s streets in a bid to stamp out shoplifting.
Nearly £18,000 of stock was recovered from thieves in the last four months – with some shop owners chasing down the culprits themselves.
As businesses battle to ride out the economic downturn, every item of stolen stock has become more valuable.
One expensive high street brand has reported £500,000 of stock was stolen from its Churchill Square store last year.
In just three hours yesterday lunchtime four shops in the city were targeted, with perfume, wine and meat being taken.
Offenders have been known to brazenly swipe a whole shelf of items – or steal things as big as a TV.
Armed with walkie-talkies from the multi-agency prevention project Brighton and Hove Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) and with the Business Improvement District (BID) Brilliant Brighton street ambassadors always nearby, catching criminals has become far easier.
The ambassadors are funded by the BID, in turn funded by a business-rate levy, to catch shoplifters, deal with anti-social behaviour and help members of the public.
Lisa Perretta from the BCRP said there has been a surge in businesses requesting crime prevention training to teach shop staff how they can legally and safely deal with shoplifters themselves before the ambassadors or police arrive.
She added: “People used to think it was the police’s or the local authority’s job, but they realise there have been cuts and now businesses are taking ownership.
“Stores are struggling and are doing that bit more sharing information, looking at images of common offenders and being vigilant.
“It can reduce theft by up to 20%.”
PC Claire Horner, who runs Operation Tealeaf which targets theft in the city, said the focus of businesses has helped police to focus on night-time crime and reduced the rate of shoplifting.
Gavin Stewart, Brilliant Brighton’s BID manager, said: “Since July 2011, the new Brilliant Brighton ambassadors have been working hard to deliver a safer city centre.
“A year and a half on and they are making fantastic in-roads into supporting the struggling retail sector and helping to keep Brighton City Centre a vibrant and safe place to visit.
“Without their commitment, seven days a week, the city centre would be an attractive proposition for thieves. As it is, many criminals know that it’s just not worth it.”
- Victim "fabricated" sex assault story - day eleven of Albion players' trial
- Dad-of-two was visiting brother and nephew when he was gunned down in Hove
- UPDATE: A27 closed in both directions near Worthing after serious accident
- Sussex artists put their skills on show
- Sussex's sewage will become drinking water under new plans