Sussex Police has brought dozens of shoplifting charges against prolific offenders in a crackdown on business crime in Brighton and Hove.
The force joined its community partners for a national business crime week of action, with two days of targeted activity on Tuesday (October 18) and Thursday (October 20).
Eight people were arrested for thefts related to the business community, with several charged and remanded or sentenced.
Aaron Haines, 40, of no fixed address, was charged with 12 counts of theft from a shop and two counts of using threatening/abusive words/behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or address.
He was found guilty of all charges and given a 10-week suspended prison sentence.
Elliot Cahill, 31, of Grand Parade in Brighton, was charged and remanded on Tuesday (October 18) for four breaches of an existing CBO as well as two counts of shoplifting.
He was bailed from Brighton Magistrates’ Court on the same day, pending a trial, but police received reports of him shoplifting again that afternoon. He was re-arrested on Sunday (October 22), charged with another count of shoplifting and breach of CBO and remanded in custody.
Michael Nichols, 37, of Cambridge Road in Hove, was charged with eight counts of theft from a shop and one of attempted theft and found guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (October 19).
He was fined, given a community order and ordered to carry out rehabilitative activity.
Four other men were arrested over the course of the week for shoplifting, burglary and breaches of court orders related to business crime.
A Community Protection Notice and Community Protection Warning were also given to two men, with breaches to be faced with further penalties.
Alongside the enforcement activity, officers also visited dozens of business premises across the city to stay up to date on issues affecting them and offer crime prevention/reporting advice.
The Licensing Team also carried out checks at a number of businesses to make sure they are complying with their licences and trading standards. Any found to have failed were offered words of advice or further enforcement is being pursued.
Chris Neilson, Sussex Police’s lead for business crime, said: “Business crime does a huge amount of harm to our communities, not only along the high street but to tradespeople and premises away from our urban centres.
“Protecting businesses and catching perpetrators is a team effort, carried out in tandem with our Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs) and business owners themselves.
“Our dedicated Business Crime Team extends this work across the force by working closely with those most affected in our cities, towns and villages to make it easier for victims to report crime and to bring perpetrators to justice.
“Last week’s targeted action is a snapshot of the hard work that goes on every day of the year in Sussex to clamp down on business crime, support business owners and protect the shopworkers subjected to the abuse and intimidation that often goes hand-in-hand with shoplifting.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Kary Bourne said: “Figures from the latest Association of Convenience Stores Crime Report tell us that 89% of colleagues working in convenience stores have faced abuse in their job – this just isn’t acceptable. Shop workers should not have to tolerate abuse and business owners should not have to normalise the loss of stock due to shoplifting.
“Earlier this year, following pressure from retailers and support from PCCs, new legislation came into force in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act classifying common assault against anyone working in a retail environment as an aggravated offence, which carries tougher penalties.
“My Safer Sussex Business Partnership agreed that we needed better data and intelligence sharing and improved and swifter reporting mechanisms as well as a co-ordinated police response. Through various initiatives – including the launch of an information sharing app for businesses and rural communities – Sussex Police were able to target the 20% of offenders committing 80% of offences resulting in successful arrests and charges.
“Educating offenders about the impact of their crimes is also important. In Sussex, we have established three programmes to work with first-time and serial offenders, providing the chance for many to give something back and demonstrating to them the harmful impact of their crimes which may seem low-cost but are definitely not low-level.”