Your help is vital to track down suspected shoplifters

This week the News has teamed up with police in a bid to track down people detectives want to talk to in connection with a series of shoplifting offences in the area.

It comes after we took part in a similar operation in June when, working with Derbyshire police, we asked for your help in solving a series of crimes.

Police appeal

Police appeal

And this week we can reveal News readers then helped officers make five arrests and four people have since been convicted of crimes, including shoplifting.

Detectives said you made numerous calls which directly resulted in the arrests.

They included the capture of Andrew Ferguson, 33, of Greenhill Lane, Riddings, who has been jailed for a total of 12 weeks.

He was convicted of theft from WE Clarke, on Grosvenor Road, Ripley, on February 18, theft from the Co-op on Maple Avenue, Ripley, on March 26 and theft from the Co-op on Wharf Road, Pinxton on April 18.

He appeared at North East Derbyshire and Dales Magistrates’ Court on Friday, September 13, and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison - all thanks to a News reader who recognised him from one of the pictures we published, say police.

The latest images are all taken from CCTV cameras ~
after alleged crimes like theft from shops in the Ripley and Heanor area — and we need your help again to track down these people to help officers with their inquiries. So if you recognise anyone, get in touch with the police on the number in this article.

All the alleged offences took place between May and June this year at shops in Alfreton, Heanor, Codnor, Somercotes and Pinxton when items were stolen including alcohol, food and cosmetics.

Detective Sergeant Sally Blaiklock said: “Shoplifting has a significant effect on the local economy and it is a crime we take seriously and want to tackle.

“Shoplifting offences have risen in Amber Valley since the start of the financial year compared to the same period last year and we want to put a stop to that trend.

“We would like to speak to the people in the CCTV images to help us with our inquiries.

“If you recognise anyone in any of the images contact Derbyshire police on 101 quoting the crime reference number or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Figures for shoplifting offences across Amber Valley between April and August 2013 show a seven per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

There have been 258 reported offences this year compared to 240 last year.

Of the 13 people featured here, police want to talk to several in connect with possible thefts of food.

Sergeant Andrew Phillips of the Ripley Safer Neighbourhood Team says this sort of crime appears to be on the rise.

“It’s unlikely that the food being stolen is for personal consumption,” he said. “It is generally things like big joints of meat that are being sold on quickly where they can”.

Sgt Phillips has urged traders to join their local Shop Watch schemes too.

Retailers who are part of the initiative have access to a secure online database of people who have been caught shoplifting. As well as being able to log into the system, alerts are also sent out by email and text message whenever a new message is uploaded.

He said: “Because of the hard time shops are having with the economy they can’t always afford to employ security guards, even on a minimum wage. That’s why Shop Watch is working well in Ripley in particular and I know it’s improving in Alfreton and Heanor.

“People can easily sign up online and I know we have shops in Ripley with radios now.”

Members will be able to collectively ban thieves from stores throughout the Amber Valley area through the system. Police Sergeant Dave Harrison, of the Amber Valley Community Safety Partnership said: “Shop Watch Online, is an additional tool we can use to raise awareness of suspicious incidents, give important crime prevention advice and improve communications between police and retailers.

“Our main aim is to get the message across that shoplifters are not welcome in the Amber Valley.”

The scheme also provides businesses with stickers for doors or windows to act as a deterrent to thieves, free security advice, and staff training and opportunities for networking with other local businesses.

Derbyshire county councillor Chris Short said: “It might seem that retail crime is a victimless crime, but that isn’t the case as honest shopkeepers suffer because of these thefts. Our residents also suffer as the costs of retail related crime gets passed onto the community through prices.

“We are committed to helping target and reduce this issue, working alongside the police and local retailers. I would encourage stores to come on board with the initiative and help us to reduce the impact on businesses and our communities.”