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Crime down, but shoplifting increase in West Berkshire

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Figures show a 12.7 per cent decrease in crime overall, but 13 per cent increase in shoplifting

CRIME is falling in West Berkshire despite increases in shoplifting and serious violent crime, a top Newbury police officer said yesterday.

The deputy commander for West Berkshire, Chief Insp Lindsey Finch, speaking at the launch of a seasonal crime prevention drive at West Berkshire Council's Market Street offices, said the overall number of crimes reported in the six months ending October 31, was down by 12.7 per cent on the same period last year.

Burglaries were down by 3.5 per cent, with vehicle thefts decreasing by 6.3 per cent.

Thefts from vehicles, an area targeted by the police, has fallen by 25.3 per cent.

The number of less serious violent incidents were also on the decrease, a fact she ascribed to more visible policing at crucial times.

“We have more officers working late at night, and having a visible presence really helps.

“Many of our PCSOs have also received additional training, which means they can play a much bigger part in active policing.”

She also said that the 6.7 per cent increase in violent crimes was less alarming than it sounds, because it constituted only one more incident, increasing from 15 last year to 16 this year.

More worrying is the upward trend in shoplifting, increasing by 13 per cent, constituting more than 70 extra incidents – a trend that is reflected nationally.

Chief Insp Finch said the local policing team is working with local shops to help bring this figure down: “We have a good working relationship with the security staff in the town, particularly the shopping centres, where we are working with their CCTV control room staff to identify and prevent cases.”

At the same meeting, officers also supplied information on keeping safe during the festive season.

West Berkshire crime prevention and reduction adviser Romy Freiburghaus advised people to plan their return journey before heading out for a night, to prevent becoming a target later on.

She also advised against drinking excessively and to be alert to people who might want to spike drinks.

Other good advise included parking in well-lit areas and keeping doors locked and keeping valuables out of sight.

Presents should not be left under the tree when heading out and boxes disposed of carefully after Christmas, because leaving it outside the house may attract thieves.

They also sought to remind everyone of the new non-emergency number, 101.

For more information, visit http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/crprev/crprev-home.htm

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