Operation Wonderland to be launched in King’s Lynn to crack down on shoplifting over festive period
It’s a time of the year when more people are out and about in town centres looking for festive bargains.
But this time of year also sees a spike in people attempting to steal from shops – which Operation Wonderland is looking to crack down on in Lynn, with the aim of protecting businesses.
The scheme means more dedicated patrols will be around the shopping area in town – in a bid to deter criminals and have officers close at hand if incidents do happen.
Shop workers and business owners expressed their relief that the scheme is back on again this year.
Debbie Lewis, owner of Designs on New Conduit Street, said that the scheme works “brilliantly”.
“Being an independent business, it always feels personal when somebody steals. I don’t know what I’d do without street rangers and police,” said Ms Lewis.
Harry Heasman, a security guard for B&M, added that he sees organised crime groups coming into the town centre and Hardwick stores.
He said: “If you get somebody steal £100 worth of items in the town centre store, that is a really big theft for them.
“You are never left on your own to deal with somebody.”
Danny Brennock, team leader at River Island, said that they see a lot of people steal “for the sake of it”.
“I think it’s a thrill thing for younger people,” he said.
Police work closely with local shops and Discover King’s Lynn’s street rangers to try to deter thieves from stealing in the first place.
When incidents do happen, officers work to recover stolen goods and deal with offenders.
Operation Wonderland begins with the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights today and will run until the end of December.
Dedicated officers will be on duty each day covering both Lynn town centre and the Hardwick Retail Park.
It will include officers from the local policing team, newly qualified officers from the Community Support Unit, Special Constables and response officers.
West Norfolk Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Ben Jarvis said: “This time of year is when we can see a spike in people attempting to steal from shops.
“Often they’re looking to make a bit of extra cash for Christmas.
“However, we know that this can have a massive impact on the shops and businesses in the town which then have to consider passing those losses on to everyone else.
“This operation has run successfully over the past few years and always has a real impact on reducing shoplifting and bringing offenders to justice.
“It’s just one example of our commitment in tackling shoplifting and we will continue to work with our partners to hold such criminals to account.”
Vicky Etheridge, BID manager at Discover King’s Lynn, added: “This operation makes a really big difference to the shops in the town.
“Christmas is a really important time of year for many of the businesses here and it’s great to see something that helps to keep Lynn a safe and enjoyable place to visit.”