Police and retailers are working hard to tackle shoplifting across Sheffield after an increase in offences of almost a fifth in five years.
The city centre is Sheffield’s shoplifting hotspot, with a quarter of the 19,642 shop thefts in the past five years reported there.
Just last week, from August 4 to 9, shoplifters were convicted at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court of stealing all sorts of items from city shops in just one week.
Forty-two-year-old thief Derek Edge, of Beaumont Road, Manor, was jailed for seven days for stealing two bottles of Stella worth £5.50.
Simon Lowe, aged 32, of Hazlebarrow Road, Jordanthorpe, was sent to prison for 26 weeks after he stole £20 of meat from Tesco on August 3, £35 of meat and washing powder from the Co-op on July 28, and £28 of meat and cheese from the same store days later.
Donna Hobson, 35, of Madehurst Gardens, Heeley, was sent to jail for 28 weeks by Rotherham magistrates after she stole £300 of razors, razor blades and champagne from Morrisons on August 2, and £238 of fragrances from John Lewis in Barker’s Pool.
Ryan Harman-Siddall, 31, of Oaks Fold Road, Shiregreen, was handed a 12- month conditional discharge and made to pay £40 in costs after stealing Lego and £32 of clothes from Debenhams.
Other items taken by shoplifters include two toasters worth £9.99 each, and bedlinen worth £28, from Poundstretcher, and five jars of coffee worth £25 from Aldi.
Some shop-owners have tackled would-be shoplifters on their own, while others say they are working with police and city centre officials.
Sean Clarke, owner of Beer Central in the Moor Market, said: “On Friday we had two men make a very amateur attempt.
“They were two old guys who’d had too much to drink. They tried to grab a couple of bottles, but were spotted.
“I think the bigger department stores with blind spots and hiding places will probably have a bigger problem.”
Andrew Wroe, manager at Poundland on The Moor, praised police and other stores in the city centre for the way they have come together to tackle the problem.
He said: “All the shops communicate with each other on a radio system, and respond to each other and send security to help out. We get pictures of people from the police, and get told who’s just been released from prison.
“You still get it happening, every day, but I think we are handling it better now. We operate a civil recovery scheme too, and can issue an £80 fine. If you take a KitKat for £1, you’re fined £80.
“We are never going to stop the ones doing it for a career, but we can stop petty crime, and it’s a deterrent.
“The police are very supportive. I have worked on The Moor for six years and the police are more supportive than ever. At a time of budget cuts, you would think it would go the other way.”
Police measures to combat shoplifting
Shoplifting offences have soared by 654 incidents in the past five years.
There were 3,557 reports in Sheffield in 2009/10, increasing slowly almost every year – up to 3,602 in 2010/11 and 4,161 in 2011/12, dropping slightly to 4,111 in 2012/13, then going up again to 4,211 in 2013-14.
South Yorkshire Police said they are working on schemes to curb shop thefts.
Insp Mark Payling, who heads up Sheffield’s city centre Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Various measures are adopted, including a dedicated policing team at Meadowhall. We also run regular overt and covert retail operations, sometimes specifically targeting the city centre, to identify and apprehend individuals shoplifting.”
Mick Platts, CCTV and business crime manager at Sheffield Council, said: “We provide a great deal of support to businesses to try to prevent them becoming victims of crime.
“A city centre CCTV system operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I also manage the City Retailers Against Crime radio network, which links businesses to each other as well as to the CCTV control room, the City Centre Ambassadors and South Yorkshire Police.
“Businesses in the city can also log into a web-based information-sharing site to access secure updates on the identities of known shoplifters, their photos, and the ways in which they are known to commit crime.”