A THIEF was caught red-handed with a ‘shopping list’ of things to steal from shops.

Police stopped a known shoplifter in Swindon who had tried to steal from Debenhams in the town.

And when they searched her bags, they discovered the ‘steal to order’ lists.

The officers were working as part of Operation Dasher, which is warning people about the potential consequences of receiving and handling stolen goods.

Community co-ordinator for the town centre PC Paul Bezzant said: “These lists are obviously for people who have ordered goods to be stolen.

“They feature names or nicknames of recipients along with the places where they hangout or have agreed to meet the thief.

“Our message to anyone considering stealing for themselves or others is that the consequences of receiving or handling stolen goods are serious - potentially you could go to prison.

“We are aware of this problem in Swindon and are working with our partners to stamp this out.

"This includes us engaging with licensed premises – places where people often choose to meet to exchange money for stolen goods – through the Pubwatch scheme.

Operation Dasher is a high-visibility Swindon policing operation, with dedicated police officers, PCSOs and Special Constables on foot patrol every day in the town centre and Old Town until Christmas Eve.

A police mobile unit and patrols will cover the five out of town shopping centres and officers in plain clothes will be deployed on covert patrols.

The annual seasonal operation is supported by inSwindon Bid’s Street Team, Swindon Borough Council CCTV operators and store security staff.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim of crime when you are out and about during the Christmas period:

When out shopping, keep your purse and handbag with you; don’t leave it in your trolley or unattended.

Keep any cash you may have on you to a minimum .

Mobile phones and wallets in back pockets are a target - keep secure and out of sight.

Be careful at cash machines and when paying by card - shield your PIN at all times.

With more shoppers about, there are inevitably more vehicles in car parks, offering more opportunities for criminals.

Don’t let your vehicle be an easy target:

Don’t leave Christmas presents or valuables like laptops, mobile phones, handbags, credit cards or cheque books in your car. If unavoidable – put them in the boot and ensure equipment is completely switched off.

Remove Satnavs, clean away suction marks on windows and make sure car doors, windows and sun roofs are all properly closed and locked.

Leave absolutely nothing on show - you may know that there is no wallet in your jacket, but a thief will break a window just to check.

If you own a van, remove tools overnight and display an appropriate sign in the rear window making this clear.

If you are a victim of crime or want to report suspicious behaviour to police please call 999 or the non-emergency number on 101. Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.