Crime crackdown in town centre as thieves target Christmas shoppers
STOLEN items are being returned to their victims as part of action being taken by the Cheltenham South Local Policing Team to tackle theft and shoplifting in the area last week.
Figures have suggested there is an increase in thefts during the run up to Christmas as extra people head into the town to buy gifts.
Operation Kracker, which took place last Thursday and Friday, saw the team use both additional undercover tactics to support their day-to-day work in tackling the crimes.
Ten plain-clothed officers were deployed in the town centre to target shoplifters and pick pockets, patrolling the main streets, shops and shopping arcades.
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Some of the offenders arrested and who admitted a theft offence were dealt with through a Community Orientated Policing (COPS) resolution.
This approach allows the outcome to be determined by the victim and not the police. Where this was decided appropriate last week, the items were returned to the shops with the thief paying the value of the goods to the store, as well as some kind of agreed punishment such as a donation to charity.
During the afternoon a 23-year-old from Cheltenham was arrested on suspicion of the theft of a mobile phone. He was later bailed to return to the police station on December 15.
Two 14-year-old girls from Tewkesbury were caught after stealing items from two shops. They were dealt with by a COPS resolution and their parents were informed.
One man was spoken to after stealing wallpaper from a shop, another for the theft of a bag. Both were dealt with by a COPS resolution.
A 27-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of the theft of items from a clothes shop. He has been bailed to return to the police station on Christmas Eve, December 24.
Following the operation, Inspector Tim Waterhouse said: "We're pleased with the results of last week's operation and will be certainly looking to run similar ones in the future.
"Thieves out there should know that Cheltenham is not a soft target and that we will not tolerate unscrupulous people making victims of those enjoying a festive shopping trip in the town."
As well as these crimes the operation was supported by Cheltenham Borough Council who were addressing parking offences, which can cause problems for other motorists visiting the town to do their Christmas shopping.
Parking Enforcement Officers from the Borough Council issued six tickets, gave words of advice to 18 people and moved on 38 drivers for illegal parking, such as parking on double yellow lines, pavements and zigzag lines.
Officers from the Council also joined the local policing team at the Police Information Post on Ambrose Street, at the junction with the High Street, last Friday where officers gave out crime prevention tips to shoppers.