FIGURES of town centre crime over the festive period show small rises in shoplifting offences and vehicle crime but a large drop in nuisance behaviour.

Police and town centre management firm inSwindon joined forces with store security staff across the retail district under Operation Dasher, and officers ran pro-active patrols to spread safety messages.

But overall shoplifting offences saw an increase of four per cent from the previous year, totalling 51 offences for December, while vehicle break-ins increased this year from two in 2011 to 17.

Meanwhile, increased foot patrols led to anti-social behaviour reports in the town falling from 57 incidents in December 2011 to just 16 incidents in December 2012.

Officers took steps to warn motorists of the dangers of leaving valuables on show or their cars unlocked, with NPT officers sending letters to the registered keepers of any cars found to be at risk.

Four people were arrested for theft from a motor vehicle, including David Coutts, 41, of Harding Street, who was sentenced to a 12-week jail term suspended for a year for two counts of theft from a motor vehicle, three counts of attempted theft from a motor vehicle and possessing an offensive weapon.

Nicholas Davis, 42, of Harding Street, was also arrested for theft from a motor vehicle and was dealt with by Swindon Magistrates’ Court on December 31, where he was given a Community Order.

PC Paul Bezzant said: “This high visibility policing initiative has helped us to ensure the town has been a safe place to visit. The information sharing with our partner agencies and the Day Safe security network has allowed us to have an effective offender management program.

“This valuable resource has without a doubt assisted us in the prevention and detection of low level crime.

“The increased patrols over this period has seen a substantial reduction in reported ASB [anti-social behaviour].

“The security staff as always have embraced the Day Safe Network, we anticipate the economic down turn to lead to an increase in acquisitive crime and whilst there has seen a slight increase in shoplifting offences these by on large resulted in the offenders being located and arrested.”

Sergeant Barry Reed, town centre sergeant said: “Although we have seen a spike in vehicle crime and shoplifting, overall the town centre was a safe place to visit and shop.

“The footfall figures, which reached 50,000 a day before Christmas, represent an increase in visitors to the town centre and our crime rates are low. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the town centre team, which includes the retailers, security staff, inSwindon Street Team, and our officers for making the Town Centre a safe and enjoyable place to visit.”

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