Travelling criminals armed with “shopping lists” are a major blight on Scarborough businesses at Christmas, according to the town’s anti-theft group.
Each year crooks arrive from outlying cities by train, bus or car and scour the shops for luxury goods, such as perfume, chocolate and designer clothing.
Thefts of alcohol also soar as shoplifters target supermarkets and off-licences in preparation for a boozy Christmas.
Cllr Janet Jefferson, chairman of the Scarborough Anti-theft Group, which includes Shop Watch, said: “We get issues with travelling shoplifters at this time of year and they will have a criminal Christmas shopping list. However, the shops that are targeted are aware and know exactly what they are looking for.
“Our 90 shop link radios interlink with the council’s CCTV and they will then be followed around the town and caught.”
Shops are currently on alert for forged £20 notes that are currently in circulation in the town.
A number of “palming” incidents have also been reported, which sees criminals pay with large amounts of cash in attempt to trick shopkeepers into thinking they are being given more money.
Cllr Jefferson said: “The other thing that is quite prolific at the moment is thieves will pick something up in the shop and then take it to the till and say it is faulty and attempt to get a refund.”
To tackle opportunist thieves, the group has teamed up with police, CCTV and Safer Communities to launch the annual Christmas crackdown, which has been dubbed Operation Chimney.
Led by Scarborough Sgt Daniel Spence, an influx of officers are set to step-up patrols in key areas across the town centre, with police also boosting undercover surveillance.