POLICE are urging residents to help clean up crime by ignoring crooks trying to sell stolen detergent.
Brazen thieves are stealing up to 20 packets of cleaning powders and liquids at a time from shop shelves in Hartlepool to sell door-to-door for drug and booze cash.
Would-be customers are being warned that it is not only against the law to accept stolen goods, but they are also doing damage to traders.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, of Hartlepool Police, said: “Buying this stuff is not good for local businesses, but it is also not helping the person selling it.
“They use this money from cleaning products to feed their habits, but it is them that need help in going clean and refusing these items is a start of that process.
“Thefts of this kind are on the increase and are difficult to control, so we need the public to help put a stop to it.”
Supt Gudgeon said that items such as batteries, packets of bacon and blocks of cheese have been favourites of thieves in the past as they can be sold on easily, but in the last few weeks cleaning products have become more popular, with around six thefts of their kind taking place each week.
The change in focus is thought to be down to the household items being both essential and costly, with detergent priced at up to £5 per bottle, which makes it tempting for people to buy on the black market for £2.
But while it saves a few people a few pounds, it is proving costly to businesses as each bulk theft can cost a shop up to £100.
Supt Gudgeon added: “People are stealing up to 20 items at a time and it is the smaller shops they are targeting as it is harder to walk out of the larger supermarkets unnoticed with such high amounts.
“Theft has a bigger impact on these places and the local people working in these shops are dependent on the profits being made.
“It also puts added pressure on them as it can raise levels of suspicion if a lot of products go missing on their shift.
“Our message to people is say no to suspicious goods being sold and report them to the police.
“It may be tempting to save money but the damage being caused has future impacts on the town.”
If you have information about anyone selling on stolen goods, ring Cleveland Police on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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