Exeter’s port is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, making it a prime location for a shop that offers peace of mind with security. Devon and Cornwall Police have urged owners of this popular seaside shopping centre to install CCTV cameras after a spate of reported shoplifting. A spokesman for the force said that officers are “aware of a number of incidents where criminals have been caught on camera committing theft”. “We believe that victims and owners of Exeter’s port have not been targeted because of its high profile and the location. However, as many shops open early in the morning or at night when it is dark outside, it is essential that staff and customers are aware of their surroundings at all times.”
CCTV cameras have been fitted at several key points in the Exeter Shopping Centre and staff have been advised to look out for’shop lifters’. The spokesman said: “We have seen people walking from one store to another with shopping bags, however, without the benefit of these cameras we would be unable to identify them. It may be that they are simply looking for items of interest and are not actually trying to steal.”
Detectives from the Theft and Surveillance unit have also been visiting the Exeter High Street on a regular basis in order to assess how effective the shoplifters CCTV systems are. Senior officer Paul Owen told the Exeter News: “I am always surprised at how effective the cameras are. I used to go into stores twice a day with a pen to take notes and then go back to the police station to record evidence. It was a bit of overkill and I now only go in for ‘targeted action’.
He added: “I think the majority of our clients are pleased with the results. If you asked me if we had been successful in reducing the number of robberies I would say yes. In some cases we have seen a reduction of 34 per cent. If this is reflected on crime figures across the country then our work is certainly bearing fruit.”
Mr Owen said that one of the reasons behind the success was that the cameras were linked to a computerised system. This enabled the operators to concentrate their efforts on areas of high crime. “We also found that when people saw they were being watched they were more likely to stay in a safe place,” he said. “That’s not always the case.”
The Exeter Business Park is one of the busiest places in Devon. The busy season starts in May and finishes in October. “We have always believed that our CCTV works and we have seen a dramatic reduction in opportunistic crimes here,” Mr Owen said. “We also find it makes the place much more attractive to visitors. When someone comes to steal from a shop, they aren’t likely to want to go into your store if they know there is a CCTV set up in the background.” Mr Owen went on to say that sales of detergents and cleaning products in the area have rocketed since the installation of the cameras.