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Police warning to shoplifters targeting Tonbridge shops from outside the county

By Claire McWethy

Out of town thieves have been warned to stay away from Tonbridge shops - after suspects were found to have traveled more than 200 miles to target the town.

This month police have arrested 18 people for the offence, with more than half believed to have come from outside the county.

They included suspects from Tulse Hill, Purley and even Leeds.

A shoplifter

A shoplifter

Now police are warning criminals that they will be continuing to deploy plain clothed officers to patrol town centre stores.

Chief Inspector Jon Kirby said: “Don’t come to Tonbridge to shoplift or you could be staying longer than you thought.

"We know that there are people from outside the county who come to the town with the sole aim of committing shoplifting and theft offences; which is why we deploy plain clothes officers to blend in with the public.

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime and it can have a drastic effect on businesses, which often have little choice but to pass on the cost of thefts to law abiding customers.”

A couple from Brockley, London were arrested on Friday, March 21 on suspicion of stealing items from numerous stores including Iceland.The 44-year-old man and 37-year-old woman were charged with theft.

The following day thieves attempted to run out of Halfords with a pressure washer worth almost £200. A 29-year-old Orpington man was arrested and charged and is set to appear before Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, April 16.

Plain-clothes officers, visible patrols and the Shop Safe retailers’ radio scheme have all been used to snare offenders.

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