Gardaí believe a 30% drop in shoplifting in Cork City centre can be credited to a new radio system being used by security personnel at a number of stores.
Sgt Tony Davis, the city’s crime prevention officer, said there was no doubt the radio link allowed for far greater co-operation between shops and gardaí, with the result that it was deterring known shoplifters.
The Cork City Radio Link is operated by 22 stores in the city centre, 17 in Mahon and four in Blackpool, all through the Cork Business Association (CBA).
It was initially started by Boots, TK Maxx, Lifestyle Sport, Champion Sports, and Brown Thomas.
Cork City Radio Link chairman Ian Bell said that, for €40 a month, shops can get up-to-the-minute information on the movement around the city of known shoplifters.
“We can communicate with each other through the radio,” said Mr Bell.
“When shoplifters arrive we put out a description of them, how many there are and in what direction they’re heading.”
He said that while shoplifting was decreasing as a result, shoplifters had become more aggressive.
Mr Bell said that some shops did not have their own security personnel, but if they needed help there was an agreement in place that personnel from manned stores came to their aid.
“In some cases stores have a panic button and if this is pressed security from nearby stores will come to assist them,” said Mr Bell.
A few months after the system was up and running it was noticed that shoplifters had been displaced to outlying shopping areas, which resulted in shopping centres in Blackpool and Mahon coming onboard.
CBA chief executive Donal Healy said its success was obvious and he was anxious that more retail outlets get involved.
“It was set up last year and is working very well. However, we’d like more people to join it. The benefits are obvious.”
However, Sgt Davis said it was important shops did not reduce their number of security staff as a result.
“They know the shoplifters better than anybody else. If stores start reducing the number of these people it will eventually lead to increased losses,” he said.
It is estimated that millions of euro of stock is shoplifted in Ireland every year, especially by specialised gangs, many of whom travel from different places to plunder shops that don’t have good security.
Some gangs employ spotters who keep an eye on security personnel as their colleagues rifle goods.
Others use distraction-type methods in an attempt to keep security personnel away from the thieves.
Mr Bell said that gardaí were responding much faster to shoplifters in Cork than ever before, which he welcomed.
However, he said the courts had to deal with repeat offenders more severely.
“We’re arresting the same people on a regular basis, but the revolving door [in prison] has them back on the streets soon afterwards. This needs to be addressed,” Mr Bell said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved