TRADERS will join new groups aimed at taking on shoplifters after reports that the problem is reaching "epidemic" levels.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Poole business owners say thieves treat their offending as a "nine-to-five job".

In the new year, a series of organisations uniting police, independent businesses and major retailers will launch in Dorset in a bid to tackle crime.

Dorset Police's business engagement inspector Cheyne Marley said: “We work with all communities, and businesses are a community.

“Acknowledging that, as victims of crime, businesses should be involved in any initiative to resolve crime, January 2019 will see the launch of seven 'business coordinating groups' across the county.

"Dorset Police will be working with each group to identify methods of disrupting crime and disorder in a partnership approach.

“Poole will have its own group, made up of large and small business.

“These groups will be a unique initiative in combating crime and disorder."

The initiative has been supported by the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry and police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill, as well as the county's business improvement districts (BIDs), he said.

Justin Hundley-Appleton, the manager of Poole's BID team, said: "The safety and security of the businesses and our customers has always been a high-priority for us.

"We’re in ongoing talks with Dorset Police and the police and crime commissioner, and are in the process of further improving security measures for the future to make a safer Poole for all."

Poole's neighbourhood inspector Adrian Thompson said police in the town are "committed" to working with business owners and other organisations to tackle shoplifting.

Police target known offenders, share information with businesses and give advice to traders, he said.

Anyone with information about shoplifting is asked to contact Dorset Police via

If a crime is in progress dial 999.