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Barking and Dagenham's shoplifting hotspots exposed as police screen out "low value" crimes

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 December 2019

East Street in Barking, where businesses have called police more than 150 times in two years. Picture: Google Streetview

East Street in Barking, where businesses have called police more than 150 times in two years. Picture: Google Streetview

Archant

Thieves have targeted businesses in Barking and Dagenham more than 2,200 times in two years - but the vast majority of crimes are going unsolved.

According to Met Police data between January 2017 and September this year shopkeepers called police 2,259 times about attempts to steal their wares.

But of these reports, 2,993 or 85 per cent were either closed with no suspect identified, are still under investigation or have not been updated since the original report.

Just 33 perpetrators have been sent to prison. Another 18 were handed suspended sentences and 12 were slapped with community sentences.

A Met Police spokeswoman said: "The Met is under various pressures including financial challenges and increasing demand.

"As a result we are having to take decisions about how we prioritise our resources."

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Under the Met's new General Investigations Policy, she said, "Lower level, higher volume offences such as shoplifting, car crime and criminal damage will have the policy applied to them to decide what level of investigation is appropriate.

"With the pressure on our resources it is not proportionate for our officers to spend a considerable amount of time looking into a low-value theft offence."

Almost a third of all the borough's shoplifting crimes - a total of 720 - took place in Abbey ward.

The other worst-hit wards were Thames with 251crime reports, and Whalebone with 157.

According to police data, there have been 665 reported thefts from supermarkets across Barking and Dagenham and 185 from shopping centres. More than 400 incidents were also reported in petrol stations and parking areas.

The worst-hit road in the whole of the borough was East Street in Barking, where 157 shoplifting-related crimes have been reported in less than two years.

This was followed by Whalebone Lane South with 49 and Green Lane in Becontree, which police were called to on no fewer than 44 occasions.

Scores of other locations in Barking and Dagenham have been blighted by would-be thefts more than 40 times in two years. There were 42 incidents reported one or around the Lidl in Axe Street, Barking and police were called to shops in nearby Vicarage Drive, close to the shopping centre, a total of 41 times.

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