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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 06:30 GMT
Christmas crackdown on retail theft
Christmas Shoppers
Police hope to deter festive crime in the high street
A Scottish police force has promised to put more officers on the beat over the festive period.

Officers from Strathclyde Police will use a variety of "simple awareness techniques" to tackle thieves operating in Scotland's "shopping capital".

Mounted police, dog handlers and motorcycle units will be deployed across Glasgow to deter bag snatchers, pickpockets, credit card fraudsters and "shoulder surfers" who copy personal identification numbers at cash machines.

The move has been welcomed by the Scottish Retail Crime Consortium which recently estimated that retail crime cost Scotland 181m last year.

Police officers
More police will be on the beat over Christmas
Glasgow is one of the biggest shopping capitals outside London and retail space has increased by more than one million square feet in the last three years.

Police estimate that more than 500,000 shoppers descend on city centre streets every week, with this figure rising sharply over the festive month of December.

Officers fear this year's Christmas rush will bring criminals out in force to take advantage of unwary shoppers and stressed-out store assistants.

They say that much of the crime could be avoided by following basic crime prevention advice such as not leaving bags unattended, securing all cash and valuables, exercising care at cash points and locking goods in the boot of a car.

Chief Superintendent John Wilson, said: "The festive season not only brings out the shoppers, but also the thieves.

'Covert operations'

"As long as you take on simple crime prevention advice, you will not be the victim of theft.

"Strathclyde Police will be operating overt and covert operations to ensure that the city centre streets will be safe to shop and to enjoy the festive atmosphere."

His message, which is part of the force's Hard Target initiative, is being backed by two prominent retail stores in the city.

Hamish Miller, centre manager of Buchanan Galleries, said: "I am delighted to see Hard Target back in operation again - it has been most effective in the past."

Elizabeth Baillie, centre manager for Princes Square, said: "Glasgow is such a fabulous place to come and shop, and it is very important that people feel safe and comfortable in the city."

She said the police initiative would help but stressed the need for ordinary shoppers to exercise vigilance and care.

See also:

09 Oct 01 | Scotland
Scots retailers count cost of crime
16 Dec 00 | Scotland
'Open season' for shoplifters
19 Nov 00 | Scotland
Strike causes court chaos
03 Mar 00 | Scotland
Shops to hit thieves in the pocket
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