Wrist alarm to tackle aggressive shoplifters

New technology on trial at Woolworths Chiswick

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The Police in Chiswick


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A staff wrist alarm that wards off aggressive shoplifters will be rolled out to Woolworths stores across the South-West after a successful police-led trial at the retailer's Chiswick store.

The simple device, which costs less than £5, was given free to staff at Woolworths on Chiswick High Road and two other local shops, under a police pilot scheme to tackle repeat and aggressive shoplifters.

The trial was such a success that Woolworths now plans to roll out the scheme to its other stores in the South-West region. Meanwhile, the town centre's Safer Chiswick Stakeholder Group is urging other shops in the area to take up the initiative.

Chiswick Police Inspector Ged Boyer said the aim of the alarm was to protect staff and deter shoplifting.

"It makes staff feel more confident in dealing with difficult situations and suspected shoplifters, by alerting other members of staff to the problem,” Inspector Boyer said.

"At the same time, it scares off the suspected offender and hopefully deters them from entering the store and attempting to shoplift again."

He said staff activated their personal wrist alarms by pushing an easily accessible button.

"With an appearance similar to a sports watch, these devices are quite small and unobtrusive, and fit onto the wrist with a velcro band," he said.

Store manager Joscelin Lane said the alarms were activated by staff about five times per week.

"It's a quick and easy way to get support from other staff and management in any difficult situation, and it prompts suspected offenders to leave the store empty-handed, without being confrontational," Miss Lane said. "Most offenders don't like being confronted or highlighted, and a noisy alarm brings unwanted attention to them. Obviously we don't work in a dangerous environment, but people can sometimes become verbally aggressive or intimidating. When the alarm sounds, they usually exit the store immediately."

Partnership Inspector Adrian Baxter said the pilot initiative was among a range of measures being taken by Chiswick police and partners - including Hounslow Council - to address shoplifting and improve community safety.

“From high-visibility patrols to anti-social behaviour orders, we are tackling shoplifting and street crime on a number of fronts,” Inspector Baxter said.

April 21, 2005