Criminal gangs stealing from members’ stores can make in excess of £70,000 per year from the sale of the stolen goods, some of which will have been stolen to order, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has told NFRN members.

Inspector Pete Cunningham told members at the NFRN’s Northern Ireland District AGM in Belfast on Thursday that many of those entering stores with the intention of stealing exhibit characteristics that allow them to be identified. These range from clothing that is inappropriate for the day, such as a long coat on a summer’s day or hats or hoods that conceal their faces, to someone who is excessively looking around the store to see if they are being watched: so called “meerkating”.

The police briefing formed part of the NFRN’s national campaign of engaging with police forces and police and crime commissioners across the country in an effort to focus attention on the huge challenge that retail crime poses on the independent retail sector.

Members also heard about the PSNI’s “Safe Shop” campaign – the only one of its kind in the UK – which provides retailers who register with a range of advice on deterring and dealing with retail crime, together with a single point of contact at the PSNI and the offer of in store training for staff.

Inspector Cunningham (pictured) focused particularly on retailers’ powers to exclude individuals from their stores and on their powers of arrest and how and when to exercise them.

At a time when retailers nationally are complaining about poor police response times, the PSNI hope that by improving staff training and awareness in deterring and dealing with retail crime incidents will help them make the most effective use of the limited police resources available.

The NFRN will be working with the PSNI to make details of the scheme available to NFRN members in Northern Ireland.

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