SHOPLIFTERS thinking of targeting Taunton stores should think again as they’re unlikely to get away with it.

Frustrated thieves are finding there are no rich pickings in the county town’s main shopping area.

Traders and police, supported by eagle-eyed CCTV operators, have teamed up to bring down the amount of people pocketing items without paying.

While the rest of the country has seen an average 4% rise in criminals stealing from stores, there were just 27 cases of shoplifting reported in the town centre in December, normally the peak time for thieves – down from 41 for the same period in 2012.

It comes just two years after the County Gazette and reported an average of 60 shop thefts a months in 2011, largely blamed on the economic downturn.

Sgt Neil Kimmins said it proved the value of the force’s ‘deter and disrupt’ campaign targeting known offenders.

He said: “It’s very much down to a partnership between police and Somerset West Businesses Against Crime (SWBAC) and CCTV is absolutely critical.

“We identify known offenders and pass information on to the stores, who will watch those people inside the premises.

“Our ‘deter and disrupt’ policy is an effective way of managing and preventing crime in the first place.

“Prolific criminals know they will be arrested if they commit further crimes.”

SWBAC, which is funded by businesses in the town centre, said no-one was taking the success for granted.

“We’re pleased with the results, but we won’t get complacent,” added Mr Sharman.

“There’s a lot of work still needs to be done.

“For an organisation funded solely by businesses, we’re really chuffed that we can support the police and the town, businesses and wider community by creating a safer environment.”

*Despite the fall in shoplifting in Taunton town centre, some thieves still chance their arm.

Two stores were targeted by shoplifters in separate incidents.

Police have issued CCTV images of two women they wish to speak to in connections with the thefts.

The first involved a woman who went into Maplins, in County Walk, and stole a pair of £90 headphones at 7pm on Monday, January 13.

The following day a woman took an electric heater from Poundstretcher in Bridge Street.

If you recognise either woman, call PC Claire Griffiths on 101.