There was almost a 50 per cent rise in shoplifting incidents in Dorset in the last year - the highest increase in the south west region.

During the 12 months from September 2022 to September 2023, the Office for National Statistics has recorded a 48 per cent increase - from 3,030 incidents to 4,486.

Dorset Echo: British Retail Consortium Retail Crime Survey

Earlier figures previously reported showed shoplifting in Dorset rose by 36% from 2,891 incidents to 3,944, from June 2022 to June 2023, exceeding the average for England and Wales which was 25 per cent.

READ MORE: Huge rise in shoplifting across Dorset

Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce President, Paul Appleby, described the recent statistics as "shocking."

"My heart goes out to affected businesses of all areas. It’s a direct loss to the businesses involved and it’s a shame that the regular customers have to pick up the tab for that loss in inflated prices and increased security measures," he added.

Recent figures also revealed that only 710 of the 3,944 recorded crimes from June 2022 to 2023, resulted in a positive outcome for law enforcement.

READ MORE: Majority of shoplifting crimes unresolved in Dorset

Dorset Echo: Handcuffs

When approached for comment regarding the sharp rise in shoplifting, Neil Corrigan, temporary Assistant Chief Constable of Dorset Police. said: “Dorset Police has a robust plan to deal with shoplifters who cause harm in our communities starting from prevention through to sale of stolen goods.

"For prolific offenders we are now grouping offences together so we can proactively arrest and charge before bail conditions are then sought. From mid-November to mid-December, 12 suspects were targeted for a total of 85 offences with work continuing in 2024 to ensure prolific offenders are identified.

 “Our local neighbourhood policing teams and crime prevention officers work across Dorset helping businesses with crime prevention, including full security reviews and advice.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick added: “I have introduced a number of measures in my role as the Police and Crime Commissioner in a bid to combat the scourge of shoplifting we are seeing in line with the national picture.

“This has included commissioning my office to set-up the Dorset Safer Business Partnership (DSBP), a strategic group consisting of my office, Dorset Police and local business lead representatives working together under four key areas – crime prevention, crime reporting, engagement and visibility, cyber-crime and fraud.

“Through the Business Crime Community Fund, I have also granted £35,000 to BIDs in Dorset for projects which will assist them in preventing and tackling these offences.

"As part of the latest Safer Streets funding, we have ensured more CCTV cameras for Dorset’s towns, alongside the integration of cameras from rural areas into the main Dorset Council CCTV control room." 

Dorchester Business Improvement District (BID) Director, Phil Gordon claimed shoplifting wasn't as bad within the Dorchester area specifically due to several initiatives the BID have installed to combat the issue. 

He said: "The DBID has just launched a 50% grant fund (jointly with the OPPC with the full support of the Police crime commissioner) encouraging businesses to either upgrade or install for the first time CCTV in their business.

"Footage recorded can then assist the Police when they are trying to track the moment of a suspect through the town. Another is our shop watch radio scheme. The DBID subsidises the cost of radios to make it affordable for any business large or small to join this scheme."

An active network of a large number of shops and other businesses in town will thus be linked via the radio in this scheme to support each other if a problem occurs in town.

For the south west region shoplifting incidents increased by 40 per cent.

Avon and Somerset saw a 46 per cent increase compared to 24 per cent in Devon and Cornwall, 39 per cent in Gloucestershire and 42 per cent in Wiltshire.