Shoplifters in Fleetwood have been warned they will be targeted when a new digital Shop Watch scheme is launched in the town.
The new initiative is in response to a reported increase in shoplifting in Fleetwood in the past two years, which is said to be hitting smaller businesses particularly hard.
Fleetwood Town Council is leading the scheme after councillors agreed unanimously to contribute £2,175 for the provision of digital radio equipment.
The scheme will see shops armed with state-of-the art digital radios to enable staff to communicate with the police and other shops.
And the operators of Fleetwood’s town centre CCTV scheme, manned by volunteers at Wyre Civic Centre, will also be linked into the radio system and can follow suspects out on Lord Street with their cameras.
The council is working with LANPAC (the Lancashire Partnership Against Crime) and the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Fund, who have contributed funds to the Wyre Community Safety Partnership.
Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said 20 businesses from across Fleetwood had so far signed up to the scheme, which will officially launched on Saturday December 1.
He said: “When a smaller business loses stock due to shoplifting, the cost of that is not recovered.
“In some cases the price of the goods being stolen can amount to around £100, so we’re not talking six or seven pounds.
“The Shop Watch scheme has several benefits and it is one we are keen to establish and hopefully grow in Fleetwood.
“We don’t want to stop at 20 businesses.
“We want to send out a message - Fleetwood is now closed to pilfering.”
PC Tracey Finlayson, who is heading the scheme for Fleetwood Police, said there have been 156 cases of shoplifting in Fleetwood town centre this year, similar to the 160 cases in 2017.
But in 2016 the total number of cases stood at 136.
PC Finlayson said: “We’re calling it Fleetwood Businesses against Crime and the shops will be playing a key role in this.
“The main offenders are already known to them and they can provide vital information to each other.”
Posters will go up in windows when the shop is signed up, further acting as a deterrent.
Coun Rogers added: “In the recent past these schemes were run on old analogue radios but technology is improving all the time.
“The digital system will also work alongside the CCTV system monitored at Wyre Council, with volunteers informed and able to train the cameras on the area where the crime is reported.
“It is a real step forward and the more shops join in, not just throughout the town centre but across the Fleetwood area, the better.”
The scheme will be self funded.
The equipment costs around £200 each and when each shop buys the equipment from the council, that money will ploughed back in to buy more equipment.