Christ­mas crooks warned

● Crim­i­nals will spend sea­son be­hind bars in ma­jor crack­down

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY JON HEB­DITCH

Crim­i­nals have been warned they will spend Christ­mas be­hind bars if they step put of line dur­ing a ma­jor fes­tive crack­down on re­tail crime in Aberdeen.

Un­der­cover and uni­formed of­fi­cers have been vis­it­ing the city’s shops and speak­ing with bosses to in­ves­ti­gate “emerg­ing crime trends” in the sec­tor ahead of one of the busiest spells of the year.

As well as shoplift­ing and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour, the use of coun­ter­feit

“We will be step­ping up pa­trols in the city cen­tre”

money can in­crease dur­ing Novem­ber and De­cem­ber as stretched shop staff deal with larger queues.

Last night po­lice sergeant Andy Saw­ers, of the prob­lem solv­ing team at Aberdeen city divi­sion, said the ap­proach was al­ready pay­ing off and there had been ar­rests made.

He added that the ap­proach was to keep crim­i­nals “off the streets” and that some “won’t see Christ­mas”.

Sergeant Saw­ers said: “My back­ground is in re­tail crime and I think work­ing di­rectly with re­tail­ers is a good ap­proach that can help us nip crim­i­nal­ity in the bud.

“We have been speak­ing with the shop­ping cen­tres and re­tail­ers about what level of prob­lems they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing to see where we can best as­sist.

“It is an on­go­ing and ev­ery­day op­er­a­tion.

“The re­tail­ers seem to be re­ally pos­i­tive about the pa­trols and the guys in plain clothes have al­ready had some re­sults.”

He added: “We will be step­ping up pa­trols around the city cen­tre dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son not just in con­nec­tion with shoplift­ing but also things like us­ing coun­ter­feit money and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour at night.

“With the uni­formed of­fi­cers on pa­trol we are hop­ing their vis­i­bil­ity will de­ter a lot of crime and the plain-clothes of­fi­cers will also be keep­ing a close eye.

“We are look­ing to take crim­i­nals off the streets and maybe, if suc­cess­ful, they won’t see Christ­mas on the streets at all.”

Adrian Wat­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of city cen­tre busi­ness body Aberdeen In­spired, said “a small mi­nor­ity” of trou­ble­mak­ers could slip in with crowds dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod.

How­ever, Mr Wat­son, who pre­vi­ously served as chief su­per­in­ten­dent and di­vi­sional com­man­der for the Aberdeen City divi­sion of the po­lice, pointed to the nu­mer­ous pur­ple flag awards given to the city for its safety.

He said: “With all the peo­ple com­ing into the city – some­thing we as an or­gan­i­sa­tion very much wel­come – there can be an op­por­tu­nity for a small mi­nor­ity of peo­ple to cause trou­ble.

“I wel­come this ini­tia­tive. It is what we have come to ex­pect from the po­lice.”

Pho­to­graph by Kenny El­rick

CRIME: Sergeant Andy Saw­ers, at Kit­ty­brew­ster Po­lice Sta­tion, said the pre-Christ­mas crack­down had be­gun.

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