ENNISKILLEN businesses have been feeling the pinch after being hit by a team of professional shoplifters in recent weeks in what police have described as one of the town’s worst crime sprees in years.
The Fermanagh Herald understands that some retailers have been left out of pocket to the tune of thousands of pounds by cross-border gangs targeting selected stores across town in distraction thefts.
The PSNI have confirmed increased reports of shoplifting in the Enniskillen area over recent weeks and say they have been working with businesses in a bid to address the problem. With currency fluctuations encouraging more southerners to come North, stores are already seeing bumper trade from the Republic and with weak sterling rates, this is set to increase footfall further in the run-up to Christmas. One Enniskillen-based retailer confirmed to the Herald that there has been a notable increase in thefts over recent weeks.
The businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “There is a notable influx of people into Enniskillen who appear to be ‘doing’ stores in Erneside Shopping Centre and other shops in the town. There seems to be three or four all-female gangs hitting various shops at various times and targeting the same brands in border towns like Enniskillen.
“These are not ‘have-a-go’ incidents. There is a pattern there and clearly these people know what they’re doing. They’re wearing very dull and basic clothes so that they can slot into the crowd and not be easy to spot unless you knew they were there and were actively looking for them.
“They keep themselves very quiet, don’t say a lot and appear organised. That way it’s easy pickings then to target the places that are either phenomenally busy or don’t have enough staff on.
“It’s clear that they are also checking out stores in advance and finding out when their staffing levels are lighter before they hit them,” he added.
A police spokesman told the Herald: “We have been working to tackle this issue and fully investigate all incidents which are reported to us. Police are working closely with local businesses in the area to promote crime prevention measures and awareness of criminal activity which could affect their livelihood.
“We recognise that theft is a crime which can take its toll on businesses of all sizes, whether it is shoplifting or theft on a larger scale. A crime prevention officer is available to all businesses to advise them on security measures and ways to deter theft from their premises. If you would like further information or advice you can contact the crime prevention officer on the 101 number.”
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