POLICE officers arrested people on suspicion of shoplifting last week as the force continued to tackle retail theft across Essex.

Essex Police arrested 30 people and charged 20 with 40 shop theft offences between February 5 and February 11. 

Three people have also been charged with assaults.

Five people were arrested in each of Basildon, Chelmsford and Southend while there were four arrests in Thurrock, three in Epping Forest and Rochford, two in Colchester and one each in the Braintree, Tendring and Uttlesford districts.

Since January 1, officers have made a total of 188 arrests for shop theft.

One man was jailed for breaching a two-year criminal behaviour order imposed last October.

On Friday, February 9, Colin Bishop, 58, of Arundel Road, Wickford, was also jailed for a total of 32 weeks and ordered to pay £239 compensation to New Look after admitting the theft of six jackets from the firm’s Wickford store on January 26. 

He also admitted breaching the criminal behaviour order.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Police - Officers are tackling shop theft across EssexPolice - Officers are tackling shop theft across Essex (Image: Newsquest)

A 16-week suspended jail sentence imposed on November 20 2023 for further shop thefts was activated by Southend magistrates.

Bishop was also sentenced to a further 16-week jail term for the latest theft, to run consecutively, and another 16 weeks for the CBO breach, to run concurrently.

Specialist business crime officers will now work with officers locally to apply to the courts for a criminal behaviour order against another man.

PC Mike Lee, of the Business Crime Team, said the force takes all reports of shop thefts seriously.

He said: “Some offenders can be violent and cause injury and distress to retail workers and customers, which is completely unacceptable."

PC Lee said Essex Police's Open for Business, Closed for Crime campaign is intended to help encourage retail staff who are victims of violence and abuse to report it to police. 

Business crime officers review every arrest for shop theft and identify opportunities to apply to the courts for criminal behaviour orders to be imposed on prolific offenders. 

PC Lee said: “Criminal behaviour orders are a very important tool in preventing not only thefts but also violence, anti-social behaviour and harassment across the retail sector. 

“If they are ignored, the offender can be arrested and put back before the courts for a tougher sentence.”

CBOs can include conditions which ban offenders from the stores they target and requirements to attend drug or alcohol treatment programmes.

Through this and their drug test on arrest programme, Essex Police seek to help divert offenders from their criminal behaviour by removing their need to steal to feed their addictions. 

Three people tested positive in custody last week for cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin and will be required to attend an assessment with one of the three drugs treatment services Essex Police work with.

Three people were cautioned for shop theft and two issued with community resolutions. 

Cases involving three others are still being investigated and two arrests resulted in no further action.