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    Operation Pedlar: Essex Police launches campaign with retailers to tackle shoplifting

    Essex Police specialist business crime officers and a licensing officer ask a member of retail staff to display the Operation Pedlar poster in the store window, (Image by Essex Police)

    Essex police has launched a one-of-its-kind new awareness campaign, Operation Pedlar, to make stolen goods too hot to handle within the retail sector to crackdown on thieves selling shoplifted goods to stores and other licensed premises.

    To raise awareness, the force’s Business Crime Team and Licensing Unit are visiting stores and asking business owners and retail staff to sign up to their ‘Responsible Retailer’ agreement. On Thursday (20), they visited seven convenience stores in Westcliff to sign up the first retailers to their Operation Pedlar scheme.

    Police have made a total of 221 arrests for shop theft since Jan 1, says Essex Police, informing that Business Crime Team and Licensing Unit.

    Sgt Christian Denning said, “We want everyone to know that the selling and purchasing of stolen goods is not permitted and to remind retailers how easy it is to report any crime to us. We’re asking business owners and retail staff to sign up to our Responsible Retailer agreement, which asks them to buy stock from legitimate sources only, display public awareness and staff guidance posters and share information with us about people who offer them stolen goods.

    “Additionally, we’re reminding retail staff they have the power to refuse entry to people who do so and they can remove them from the premises. Everyone we asked on Tuesday agreed to sign up, which was very encouraging. We will be spreading the word during our regular visits to shops and businesses across the county.”

    Operation Pedlar aims to remove the financial incentive for thieves and, therefore, remove the benefits of theft. Police said if one store is known to buy stolen items, then stores nearby are likely to suffer from thefts.

    Sgt Denning said police are tackling shop theft from “different angles”.

    He said, “Through our drug testing on arrest scheme, we’re helping to break the cycle of offending if people are stealing to feed their addictions. Everyone arrested for acquisitive crimes such as shop theft are tested for Class A drugs while they are in our custody”.

    He said those who test positive are required to attend a drug treatment assessment with one of the three charities the force works with.

    If members of the public know of any stolen goods being resold in stores, they are advised to report it online or on 101, with the phrase ‘Op Pedlar’.

    Gordon Ashford, alcohol licensing manager, said, “We take the selling of stolen goods, particularly on licensed premises, extremely seriously. If a licence-holder is suspected of doing so then, alongside any criminal investigation, my team will seek the revocation of a premises licence to sell alcohol if there is evidence to do so.

    “In some cases, this may mean a licence is suspended ahead of any hearing.”

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