NORTHWICH Police registered immediate success on the first day of a new six-month campaign to apprehend shoplifters.

Officers from the Special Constabulary launched Operation Elne on Saturday, July 19, which saw coordinated uniform and plain clothes operations to catch people committing retail crime.

In Matalan, a plain clothes officer observed Lynette Thompson, 27, of Renshaw Street, Northwich, removing items from the display and hiding them in bags she was carrying.

Special Sergeant Ed Chapman swooped when she attempted to leave the store without offering to pay for the goods.

Thompson was found to be in possession of £130 of stolen goods and was immediately arrested.

It transpired that she was already on court bail from Chester Magistrates court, with a condition not to enter any retail premises, so she was also arrested for breaching court bail and transported to the Middlewich custody suite.

Special Sergeant Chapman said: "This was an excellent example of the dedication and professionalism of the Northwich Special Constabulary team - with members of the community volunteering their time to help reduce crime in their community."

“Over the last month I have been planning Operation Elne, which will see plain clothes Special Constables deployed into the town centre on a regular basis from now until after the Christmas period, to continue to identify and arrest shoplifters, as well as dealing with any other offences or anti-social behaviour we come across.

"If this success on the first day is an indicator of the future, I hope that in the coming months my team and I will be able to bring many more of the criminals who steal from Northwich shops to justice."

Thompson pleaded guilty to theft from a shop and breach of bail conditions and was sentenced to 10 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months at Chester Magistrates court on Thursday, July 24.

She was given an 18-month supervision order and nine month’s drug rehabilitation.

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