A rogues gallery of Blackpool’s most wanted shoplifters can today be revealed by The Gazette as new figures show a sharp increase in the number of thefts from shops.
Some shop owners in the resort claim to lose around £1,200 stock a month to thieves.
Now police officers have identified 60 of Blackpool’s most prolific thieves and are asking Gazette readers for their help to identify them.
Insp Matt Wilmott, from Blackpool Police said: “The number of people shoplifting has easily doubled throughout July and August.
“People tend to think of shoplifting as a victimless crime but that is simply not the case.
“Initially shop owners absorb the cost, but eventually that cost is passed on to other law abiding shoppers and that isn’t fair.
“We need The Gazette’s readers’ help in identifying these 60 shoplifters.
“We are doing everything we can to reduce shoplifting and I can categorically say anyone caught stealing will be dealt with robustly.”
Officers said they will carry out stop and search operations, visit known offenders who steal to order, obtaining search warrants and target those who knowingly buy stolen goods.
Figures from April 1 to August 30 this year show an increase of 18 per cent – 117 crimes – in the number of reported shoplifting offences in the town compared to the same period in 2012.
In those five months 768 shoplifting offences were recorded by police, compared to 651 last year.
Thieves are regularly helping themselves to meat, alcohol, household items and toiletries, police said. There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of party packs of alcohol being taken.
Insp Wilmott, said: “I think much of the increase is down to the unprecedented good weather.
“The increase in the large packs of alcohol and BBQ meat packs being taken, I believe is down to people who have run out of money and have turned to stealing to enable them to go to the increased number of parties being held.
“There has also been a lot of changes to benefits, which will have had a profound effect.”
Thieves target established chain stores and independently run shops, with Central Drive becoming a particular hot spot, police said.
As part of the crackdown officers will be visiting shops with high theft rates and offering them advice on how to reduce the problem.
Anyone who recognises the people pictured in the CCTV images is asked to call police on 101.
Store owners back police crackdown
Shopkeepers say thieves can have a huge effect on their businesses.
Tina Phillips, manager of Home Bargains on Talbot Road, Blackpool, claims her store loses up to £300 a week through shoplifting.
She said: “Alcohol, coffee, toothpaste and painkillers are the main items they want. It’s a huge cost to the business and we can’t meet our stock take because we are losing up to £300 a week at least.”
Tom Garner, a security guard at Costcutter, on Westcliffe Drive, Layton, says 24 in-store cameras are helping him to catch shoplifters.
He added: “We usually clock them on CCTV then stop them on the door.
“Putting their pictures in the paper will help because the worst offenders will become known in the shops.”