THE boss of Beales has called for action after multiple cases of theft and shoplifting resulted in no police attendance or arrests.

Tony Brown, chief executive of New Start 2020 – the company that purchased the Beales brand name and intellectual property after the department store company went into administration, has been critical of Dorset Police’s response to shoplifting reports.

He said: “We have caught a number of offenders in the act but can’t get the police to attend.

“When we call the authorities, their response is that they don’t have enough officers or that they’re engaged in other activities. If a crime is being committed, surely they need to respond regardless?

“Our impression is that the police don’t see shop theft as a serious enough offence to attend, they see it as business inconvenience."

The Beales store in the Dolphin Shopping Centre, Poole, is one of three remaining sites in the UK to carry the historic brand name.

Mr Brown said police should trial a one-month zero tolerance policy for shoplifting offences in order to deter future crime.

He added: “We have employed another store detective to our store in Poole but that job only works if police respond. If these people are caught, arrested and prosecuted, it’s a deterrent and they’re less likely to do it again.

“The police rely on us to take the offenders' details over the phone and to do paperwork. We're catching thieves and they're filling out forms. It’s getting worse and if we’re investing in more store detectives, the least I expect is the police to turn up.”

Superintendent Heather Dixey said: “We understand concerns and recognise the impact shoplifting offences have on the members of our business community and their frustration if they are repeatedly targeted.

Bournemouth Echo: Superintendent Heather Dixey of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole local policing areaSuperintendent Heather Dixey of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole local policing area

“However, as the public would expect, with all demands on our resources, our attendance will be prioritised based on an assessment of threat, risk, harm and vulnerability in the context of all matters the force is responding to at that particular time.

“Our efforts to tackle shoplifting include targeting known offenders, sharing information and advising businesses on what steps they can take to avoid becoming a victim of crime.

“The number of reports of shoplifting this year in Poole is lower than it was during the same time last year, despite the fact that the majority of shops have now reopened since their closures during the pandemic.

“We work with the BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) and the local authorities around our response to tackling shoplifting as well as anti-social behaviour and other aspects in order to ensure Dorset remains a safe place to live, work and visit.

“In Poole there is a multi-agency problem solving group, involving police, the local authority, education services, the BID and bus companies, to tackle issues surrounding anti-social behaviour (ASB) and crime in the area. This group has been working to reduce ASB and improve satisfaction by businesses.

“We do have many successful convictions of shoplifters and will also use other powers such as criminal behaviour orders in order to deter those who persistently cause issues to shopkeepers.

“We encourage all shopkeepers and business owners to report any shoplifting incident to us as soon as possible so we can investigate and would ask them to supply all the relevant information such as CCTV images. This enables us to carry out an investigation to identify the person responsible.

“All reports of shoplifting will be treated in exactly the same manner, whether it is an independent store or major retailer reporting it.”

Bournemouth Echo: Beales department store in Poole's Dolphin Shopping CentreBeales department store in Poole's Dolphin Shopping Centre

A Beales staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, shared a recent experience.

They said: “A male that has been into our store on multiple occasions, unfortunately never caught on CCTV or in person, entered the store.

“The male dodged staff and put five electric razors into two plastic supermarket bags.

“I captured the whole incident on CCTV and managed to get to the ground floor just as he left the store with our items.

“I ran to get in front of him so I could explain who I was and ask for the items back, but the male started running so I had to physically restrain him until a colleague could come to assist.

“I called 101 and after approximately 20 minutes the control room officer explained there was a shortage of officers to come out however, he confirmed all details over the phone. He completed security checks to see if the offender was telling the truth and then organised for a theft pack to be sent out.

“In my experience dealing with the police I have never had this done over the phone.”