Police across all five East Sussex districts, including Lewes and Wealden, are targeting Christmas criminals as the run up up to the festive season enters its last week.
Christmas is a time where the shops are very busy, but it is also a time that sees an increase in retail thefts.
Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes, Rother and Wealden policing districts are conducting Operation Grinch, targeting retail offenders.
The Sussex Police operation aims to tackle shoplifting by providing greater police presence over the Christmas and New Year period, both through high visibility and covert patrols, offering reassurance to businesses and communities and sending out a strong message to would be thieves.
Through high-visibility patrols, police aim to identify and target offenders by various means, including uniformed and plain clothes patrols, utilising the Shopwatch radio system and CCTV and working in partnership with shops and licensed premises.
Sussex Police will also be working closely with the British Transport Police and revenue protection officers on the rail networks specifically to focus on potential shoplifters who may be travelling between towns.
Shoppers should also be mindful to their own security, too, as purse and bag thefts tend to increase as the shops get more crowded and opportunist thieves strike.
By taking some simple crime prevention measures, people can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of theft:
Keep your bag closed and close to you at all times, held securely under your arm or strapped across your body if possible.
Never leave bags unattended - e.g. on a trolley, pushchair or wheelchair.
Be aware of anyone acting suspiciously, such as getting too close to you or trying to distract you by bumping into you - such behaviour should be reported to police, security or shop staff immediately.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash around with you and don’t let anyone see what’s in your purse or wallet as you are paying.
Never keep your PIN number with your bank cards.
Sergeant Sarah Porter of Bexhill neighbourhood policing team said: “Don’t be a Grinch and steal someone’s Christmas, we’ll catch you!
“We continue to support our local business across the district and will proactively support them where possible,
“If anyone is planning to visit our local towns to commit crime then think again.
“Offenders caught stealing can expect to be dealt with robustly.”