More than 40 businesses back Sidmouth ‘shop watch’ revival

PUBLISHED: 07:30 29 December 2017

PSCO Steve Blanchford-Cox and Sophie James from Fat Face, which has signed up to the Shop Watch scheme

PSCO Steve Blanchford-Cox and Sophie James from Fat Face, which has signed up to the Shop Watch scheme

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Retailers across Sidmouth are signing up to a revived ‘shop watch’ scheme to share warnings when suspicious characters show up.

PSCO Steve Blanchford-Cox and Sophie James from Fat Face, which has signed up to the Shop Watch schemePSCO Steve Blanchford-Cox and Sophie James from Fat Face, which has signed up to the Shop Watch scheme

PSCO Steve Blanchford-Cox said more than 40 store owners are keen to get involved, with others yet to be visited.

Fields of Sidmouth manager Brian Dowie last month called for the system to be revived after thieves cut security tags off several items – leaving him fearing the town is seen as a ‘soft target’ to crooks.

He told the Herald: “It hasn’t gone away. The sooner we can get the shop watch scheme up and running, the better.

“We know we had people in during the week who were trying to steal – people have specialist equipment. They have magnetic de-taggers or wire cutters.

“Businesses have got to report thefts, that’s the other issue. The police hierarchy look at the stats. Hopefully people are more aware they need to report thefts and attempted thefts – every time.”

He said, in a week at Fields before Christmas, thieves had cut tags off a jacket, but got interrupted so could not take it, and others had tried to get into the perfume cupboards.

“There are people we know are coming in to steal,” added Mr Dowie. “We share the details in the immediate area, but they could be shared with other businesses.

“We’re at a peak time of the year. We need this sooner rather than later. Businesses need to be aware and they need to be watching. The more people get on board with the shop watch scheme, the more comprehensive it’s going to be.”

PCSO Blanchford-Cox said: “The first phase of shop watch is the shops being signed up to Devon Alerts [a messaging system run by Devon and Cornwall Police].

“The second phase will be started in the new year with a possible telephone cascade system being introduced.

“Once done, there will be a bedding-in period where we can identify problems and tweak if necessary.

“I envisage a system that will evolve and utilise modern technology. It’s important to ensure that whatever system is in place it is user friendly, being quick and easy to use. That way we get maximum participation.”

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