Dedicated officer helping catch more shoplifters in Newark
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Newark’s dedicated shop theft officer has vowed to continue taking action against the town’s thieves.
Conviction rates for shoplifters in the area have skyrocketed since the force introduced the new role in April 2023.
In the months that have followed, 17 per cent of reported shop thefts have led to action being taken – whether through an arrest or charge.
That’s more than three times greater than the national average over the same period, where around per cent of offences resulted in a positive outcome.
Key to this massive improvement across the town has been the creation of the Neighbourhood Policing Team’s first ever dedicated shop theft officer post.
PC Jordan Burnett spends his shift looking into high value thefts across Newark’s stores – either trawling through CCTV at the station or visiting the shops in person.
Lots of thefts tend to be committed by people already known to the police, with this knowledge playing a vital role in helping put names to the faces featured in the footage.
It’s fair to say PC Burnett’s role isn’t limited to reviewing film from behind a screen however, with the officer regularly getting out in the community in plain clothes to try and spot wanted suspects too.
“A lot of stores won’t know who some of these prolific offenders are, but the chances are that we will, so it’s my job really to go in and review the evidence and say I think I know who that is,” he said.
“Once I think I know who it is, I’ll pull together the evidence for my team and, if they're wanted for a theft or multiple offences, establish that so we can then get them arrested, put before the courts and sentenced.
“Because I have that dedicated time to pull together the CCTV and witness statements and identify these people, that means the evidence is there to back our officers up when they go out and arrest these suspects.
“I think the reason we have had some success is that a lot of the people we identify are people we have knowledge of already.
“I’ve covered Newark for eight years now, so it is quite important in this role to have that knowledge of Newark already, because ultimately it will help identify these offenders quicker.”
This approach to tackling shoplifting has resulted in a rise in positive outcomes for the Newark Neighbourhood Policing Team, with more prolific offenders being charged and handed prison sentences.
As an example, PC Burnett was able to identify Karen Meanwell, 53, of Lilac Close, Newark, as the person behind a theft spree in Newark at the start of October, with the serial shoplifter receiving a four-week custodial sentence as a result.
Bradley Jones, 31, was also wanted for 11 thefts involving large amounts of alcohol when PC Burnett and a fellow officer spotted him during a foot patrol around Newark town centre on 19 October.
Having reviewed the CCTV from each of these incidents, he was quickly able to identify Jones, of no fixed address, who was taken to court and handed an eight-week sentence the next day.
PC Burnett said:
“I think it’s vitally important to have this dedicated role because you’re able to give that one officer the sole responsibility of identifying these shoplifters and ultimately protecting the stores.
“It just speeds everything up, while having that extra time means I’m able to concentrate on finding patterns of offending, look through all the footage, and be out visiting more of these shops in plain clothes.
“You do see a lot more when you’re not in uniform and it means you don’t spook the shoplifters either.
“There have been multiple examples where I’ve been in a store getting CCTV for one job and while I’m stood getting that evidence, another person has walked in who I know is wanted for multiple thefts, so I’ve been able to detain them, and that’s another suspect off the wanted list.
“I work closely with the PCSOs, and the beat team officers, who all know the area and the prolific offenders, so it works really well and the stores are starting to notice as they are seeing something’s being done, so we will carry on with these tactics.”
PC Burnett’s team have also worked closely with Newark and Sherwood District Council to encourage shops on the high street to sign up to an app designed to make more retailers aware of the known shoplifters operating in the area.
‘Schemelink’ contains images and names of shoplifters from the nearby area who are known to the police, while it also allows stores to communicate amongst themselves and warn one another about a theft or a sighting of one of a suspect.
“The app helps the stores to share information with each other, so that they know that ‘so and so’ is about, and makes them aware of what these prolific offenders look like,” said PC Burnett.
“That’ll hopefully prevent thefts because retailers will see them come in and challenge them, while the idea is that it will make people more confident to keep reporting these thefts too.”
PC Burnett, who took over the role from Sergeant Marcus Bloomfield in September, added:
"Since the launch of this role, we have seen a big shift in people being dealt with for these offences and put before the courts.
“You want people to feel confident to report these crimes to us and not feel like it’s a waste of time, because doing this helps us to build up a picture of intelligence that can eventually identify who these shoplifters are.
“This is exactly what we want, so it’s really important that the public continues to see us target those suspects within the community who are having an impact.”
Shop thefts can be reported directly to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency, while information can also be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.