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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 01:14 GMT 02:14 UK
Burglary charge cuts shop theft
Shopping generic
Shoplifters face a burglary charge in Huddersfield
Police in Huddersfield say a scheme which charges shoplifters with burglary rather than just theft has cut offences by 16% since July.

Shoplifters in the town face a "three strikes and you're out" policy designed to target repeat offenders.

On the fourth offence, they can be charged with burglary - which carries a potentially tougher sentence.

Shoplifting is rising nationally with almost 300,000 thefts reported in England and Wales last financial year.

Under the new strategy, shoplifters are banned from certain stores after their third offence. If they return they will be trespassing.

On the third offence they are served with a notice warning that they are banned from certain stores.

If they are found in these shops again that is classed as trespassing, which allows police to charge offenders with burglary if they are caught for a fourth time.

Burglary from a shop carries a maximum sentence of 10 years compared to seven for theft.

Officers believe the potentially tougher sentences are acting as a deterrent, helping Huddersfield buck the national trend for figures for theft from shops.

Recent research by the British Retail Consortium suggested shoplifting has risen 70% since the year 2000, despite billions spent on security.

The BRC' s 2006 Retail Crime Survey estimated that shop crime in the UK in 2005 cost a total of 2.1bn.

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