A SUPERMARKET has seen shoplifting incidents drop by half since a police initiative was launched in-store.
Thefts have been cut by 50 per cent since the introduction of a permanent police presence at the Asda store in Peterlee in August last year.
The initiative, held in conjunction with the Safe Durham Partnership, had aimed to reduce incidents by at least 25 per cent in its first year, as previously reported by the Hartlepool Mail.
But police chiefs are hailing the success of the venture after the percentage of thefts dropped by 50 per cent.
March 2011 was used as a baseline to measure incidents and in that month, there were 22 recorded thefts.
But in October, there were just 11.
Anti-social behaviour has remained at a similar level, with six in March and seven in October.
Police say the average number of incidents, including thefts and anti-social behaviour has gone from 28 a month to 18.
The anti-social behaviour at the supermarket includes verbal abuse towards staff and teenagers hanging around outside the store on evenings and weekends.
The scheme includes police access to the store’s security office and CCTV footage, as well as a high-visibility approach.
There is also a regular community forum at the store, called Cuppa with a Copper, where shoppers can air their crime concerns with officers.
Sergeant Ian Dickinson, of Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are over the moon with the results.
“We are doing very well and Asda is very happy.
“It all goes towards keeping shoppers and staff safe and protecting Asda’s interests where shoplifting was a big problem.
“Our efforts are ongoing to drive down crime at the store even further.”
The scheme sees officers working alongside security staff to identify known shoplifters and known offenders.
A new office has been provided at the front of the store for the joint use of security staff and police.
It also involves police providing details of prolific thieves to store staff and home visits to repeat offenders.
The next Cuppa with a Copper session will be held from 10.30am-noon on Thursday, February 9.