Five teenagers were arrested in connection with the theft of high-value clothing in Watford on Sunday 29 October.
Police were alerted by CCTV operators to a developing incident at Uniqlo in the Atria shopping centre just before 1.45pm, where a large amount of clothing had been stolen.
Thanks to fast-time collaboration between partner agencies, five people were promptly detained and arrested on suspicion of shoplifting within 45 minutes of police being alerted.
Officers from both the Safer Neighbourhood and Intervention teams – and staff in the Constabulary’s Force Communications Room – worked with security staff at the Atria, and Watford Borough Council’s CCTV operators, to track the suspects after they smashed their way out of the Uniqlo store – which had been locked by staff – and ran off in different directions.
A 16 year old boy from Dagenham, Essex, was arrested on Cassio Road 15 minutes after the report came in, and five minutes later another 16 year old boy from Romford, Greater London, was arrested on the High Street.
Three further males – an 18 year old and a 15 year old from Dagenham, Essex, and a 16 year old from Stoke Newington, London, were arrested at Watford Junction railway station within half an hour of CCTV operators raising the alarm via Watford’s Business Watch scheme*.
Clothing worth an estimated £1,900 was recovered and later returned to the store, and all five males arrested were taken into police custody. They have since been released on conditional bail, the terms of which state that they must ‘not enter Watford for any reason’.
Sergeant Brad Cross, who leads the Watford Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “This was a high-visibility incident and those in the town centre yesterday would have witnessed a heavy police presence which they may have found concerning. However, I hope they are reassured by the news of these arrests and the speed at which they were made thanks to partnership working from members of Safer Watford.
“It’s worth noting that those who were arrested are not local, and we want to send a strong, clear message: if you think Watford is an easy target for retail theft, think again. I want to thank all those who were involved in achieving this positive result yesterday, and to reassure residents and visitors that we will continue to work together to make Watford a safer place to live, work and visit.”
Deputy Mayor and Portfolio Holder for Community, Cllr Aga Dychton, said: “The swift action taken against these individuals is a testament to our Community Safety Partnership, Safer Watford, and the collective effort of all of the dedicated individuals and team who are ensuring the welfare of our community. We hope this provides reassurance to both residents and visitors of Watford that we are always working together to keep our town safe.”
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