News Release

Thieves stopped in their tracks

Dated: 02 Feb 2012

Police arrested more than 400 people and stopped and made more than 3,500 stops during a winter crackdown on thieves in Newcastle.

Operation Cracker - aimed at preventing and detecting shoplifting in the city centre - ran for just over three months from October 2011, a time when shoplifting offences historically start to rise.

It saw known thieves stopped in their tracks and spoken to about the campaign with the aim of keeping them out of the city centre in the run up to and over the festive season.

During the campaign, which ended in mid-January, police arrested 500 people for shoplifting and other associated offences such as breach of bail conditions and direction to leave orders - which can order a person out of the city centre for a period of 48 hours.

In addition police made more than 3,500 pro-active stops of known thieves and suspicious people to alert them about the campaign and action that will be taken.

As a result of the activity there was an 8.8% drop in shoplifting this year - 485 offences compared to 529 offences over the same period last year.

And since the Cracker campaigns began in 2008 - when there had been a high of 661 shoplifting offences in the same period - Newcastle city centre has seen an overall a fall of 26%.

The reduction has been achieved by careful analysis of where and when offences have been committed and then directing resources to provide a high visibility presence with the intention of stopping known or potential offenders from committing crime.

Each year the campaign sees local officers work closely together with Eldon Square and all retailers to identify offenders and reduce offences.

Newcastle city centre Neighbourhood Sergeant Darren Graham, who oversees the running of Operation Cracker, said: "The campaign has been a success with a reduction in the number of offences taking place in the city centre throughout the festive season.

"We targeted known shoplifting offenders and those suspected of being in the city centre to commit crime by stopping and speaking with them about the ongoing campaign.

"We ensured anyone arrested for theft offences was given bail conditions to stay out of the city centre and arrested people for breaching those conditions. And direction to leave notices were used to good effect to have thieves steer clear of the area.

"Although shoplifting may seem a low level crime, it has a huge impact on retailers and the vitality of the city centre, and if people are willing to steal they may be committing other types of crime. It's important we take action to reduce the number of thieves in Newcastle and operations such as this will continue."