POLICE are appealing to traders to help them crackdown on a prolific shoplifting issue in the town centre.
PC Dave Stubbs, of Cheadle Local Policing Team, attended a recent meeting of Cheadle Town Council where he reported that shoplifting was a serious concern in the town centre.
He said: "The biggest issues we are trying to target as much as possible in Cheadle are drugs, shoplifting and speeding.
"We don't have many alcohol-related problems in the town, especially since we launched the Safer Night operation.
"Since January, we have executed 11 warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act and we have had success with every single one and have been able to close avenues in the drug supply in Cheadle.
"We get a lot of information from the public through independent charity Crimestoppers, and thanks to appeals and reports we do with the local press and on Twitter.
"But shoplifting is still a big problem for shopkeepers in the town, particularly at the bigger chain stores.
"I carried out a plain clothes operation around Christmas and as a result, figures for theft in the town centre rose to 52 per cent, because we caught people ourselves.
"We are struggling to get on top of it because most incidents are not being reported, and if they are not being reported, we can't take action to stop it. Then word gets out that Cheadle is an easy target, it escalates and gives way to further crime taking place in the town.
"I'm constantly badgering for more resources, but if there are no reports or figures to back up what I'm saying about there being a big problem in the town, it's very hard to justify the need.
"It's about nipping it in the bud at an early stage; we want to try and educate those responsible as well as bring them to justice, especially if they are young, and there are many different ways in which we can do that.
"We also need to look at setting up a Shop Watch scheme, which has proven to be very successful in other places."
Councillor Emma Carr, who owns a business in the town centre, said that she had identified shoplifters in her shop and just asked them to leave, rather than reporting it to the police, as she was concerned about the dangers of tackling them.
She said: "If I spot a shoplifter I take them outside and ask them to leave and then bar them from returning to the shop, and notify the staff who they are and not to let them in again.
"We have CCTV but I'm not aware, as most shopkeepers aren't, of what you can actually do to stop someone and detain them.
"Often they are local people who I know, which makes it very awkward, and often they have drug or alcohol problems, which makes them unpredictable, so challenging them and detaining them is difficult.
"I have great faith in the public because someone told me that they knew some people who had taken items from me.
"I started to keep a record and I will advise others to do the same and speak to the other traders with regards to setting up a Shop Watch scheme."