SHOPLIFTERS have been warned they will no longer be tolerated in Wrexham.
That is the stern message from members of the Town Centre Forum who revealed they were taking a tough stance on would-be thieves in the run-up to Christmas.
Kevin Critchley, manager of Eagles Meadow and chairman of the forum, claimed stores were becoming more proactive in preventing shoplifting with the help of North Wales Police.
“We’re trying to get away from the idea of arresting shoplifters by stopping them at the doors to say they’re just not welcome here.
“We haven’t got the staffing in shops to try and catch these people but we can try and stop them coming in in the first place.
“If we can do this they will realise they can’t make a living here and will go elsewhere.“
Mark Williams, town centre inspector, said policing in Wrexham was still “moving in the right direction” with more bobbies on the beat and another drop in crime levels.
He said: “We’re seeing a reduction across the board compared to this time last year.
“For victim-based crimes there were 153 fewer than last year and with overall crime there were 232 fewer reported. That’s a drop of 21 per cent.
“In previous years we would see a large increase in crime like shoplifting around this time of the year and although there has been a slight increase the scale of the increase has shrunk.”
Insp Williams revealed the Wrexham police force is now up to “full strength” with two community beat managers and seven police community support officers dedicated to the town centre, the last of whom was installed on Monday.
Speaking at the forum meeting Insp Williams said Operation Santa was launched in the town centre on Sunday to deter shoplifters.
“We are stopping known offenders and they are being told they are not welcome here,” he said.
“That’s the message we want to drive home with the help of shops who are working with us to turn them away as they’re trying to come into the stores rather than waiting for them to commit a crime and then catching them.”
l Insp Williams was also pleased by how smoothly the Wrexham Christmas lights switch-on went.
He revealed the event was “notorious for anti-social behaviour” but was delighted to announce there were no incidents reported this year.
PCSOs will be on hand in the town centre today handing out “jingle bells” which shoppers can attach to their bags and purses to deter pickpockets.
And North Wales Police is also in the process of launching a Shopwatch scheme which aims to sign up more than 400 businesses which can then work together to share information on known offenders and suspicious behaviour.
See full story in the Leader