THE Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset has joined a police patrol in a bid to reassure High Street businesses plagued by a spike in shoplifting.

Officers from Wells Neighbourhood Policing Team are acting following reports of "increased tension amongst businesses" in the city centre caused by "an increase in shop thefts during the summer months".


A spokesperson for the team said: "In recent weeks, a male and female have been reported for suspected shoplifting.

"These individuals have been identified, and an investigation is ongoing at this time into their conduct.

"We are working closely with affected businesses to help safeguard them against future losses."

The suspects were identified following two separate reports of theft of items valued at under £10.

The first offender has received criminal justice sanctions and will now hold a record on the police crime recording database. The second has apologised and paid for the stolen item.

The spokesperson added: "The neighbourhood team will be looking to follow this up with possible sanctions, as well as supporting the local store with banning letters."

Officers are working with Somerset Council and its 24/7 CCTV coverage.

There have been nine reports of shoplifting in Wells over the last four weeks - five in the High Street/Queen Street area, three of which are ongoing investigations, one which has ended with "positive intervention" and the other "filed due to insufficient evidence".

The spokesperson said: "We as the police take a firm stance on shoplifting and encourage any business to report theft of any kind via the correct reporting pathways.

"We appreciate that this takes time but allows us to build a picture of who is being affected and how frequent.

"In turn, this enables us to conduct targeted patrols and operations as well as requesting additional support from other specialised departments.

"Wells Neighbourhood Policing Team will continue to provide high visibility in the affected areas and deal with any offences that present themselves."

Meanwhile, Chief Constable Crew was in Wells yesterday (Friday, August 18) to talk to officers, the public and business owners.

Afterwards she said: "It was a fantastic insight into the work that goes on in our neighbourhood policing teams, how valued they are by the communities and how they daily build public trust and confidence.

"The passion that I saw from every member of staff that I met was wonderful to see and the pride they all take in their work was inspiring."