Call for scheme to be revived so Sidmouth not seen as 'soft target'

PUBLISHED: 15:40 27 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:40 27 October 2017

Fields of Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 2449-10-14TI

Fields of Sidmouth. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 2449-10-14TI

Archant

A store manager is calling on staff and police to collaborate again to stop Sidmouth being seen as a ‘soft target’ for shoplifters and other criminals.

Security loop tags that were cut off items at Fields of SidmouthSecurity loop tags that were cut off items at Fields of Sidmouth

Brian Dowie has issued a warning about ‘organised and professional thieves’ after security loop tags were cut off two items at Fields of Sidmouth yesterday (Thursday).

He said if businesses with top technology can be hit then smaller stores could be losing out – so the town’s Shop Watch scheme needs to be revived.

“Someone came in and cut the security tags,” said Mr Dowie. “It’s a new development. They came here prepared.

“We have security in place but they were prepared to overcome it. What’s happening in stores that don’t even have that level of protection in place? I want to make people aware that it’s going on.

“It’s a bigger problem than people think. I think it’s growing. Larger cities have CCTV and security patrols. The people who are going to steal are going to look for easier targets.

“We need to get the shop watch scheme up and running again. We need more communication between stores and we need the police to be up front when they are aware there’s a problem.”

A member of staff found the cut security tags – one in a coat pocket and the other in a changing room. Mr Dowie said they would have come off either a jacket or a handbag but it is not possible to be precise without a full stock check.

Under the shop watch scheme, if anyone saw someone acting suspiciously they would phone the next two or three businesses in the chain and the word would spread throughout the town. Mr Dowie said it fell apart after several businesses changed hands a few years ago.

He added: “If shoplifters are doing this professionally they’re going to hit the town and hit it hard. Sidmouth has to show it’s not a soft target.

“Shop watch worked and it worked well last time. It needs everyone to be involved.”

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