New group will target travelling criminals.
The North East Retail Crime Partnership (NERCP) is joining forces with other retail crime groups from Scotland, Cumbria and Northern Ireland to help track down more travelling gangs of shop criminals.
s showed that there was a 22% rise between September and December 2008 across Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police areas compared with the same period in 2007, with experts saying the recession is forcing people to steal for "need, not greed".
Data gathered by Retailers Against Crime shows that teams of criminals who travel from region to region to steal are responsible for around half of the cost of all retail theft.
With crime such as shoplifting, refund fraud and till-dipping losing North East retailers pounds 50m each year, the research suggests that at least pounds 25m of this could be down to travelling thieves, even though only around 10% travel away from their local area to commit crime.
For the past 10 years, the NERCP has been gathering intelligence and tracking prolific shop thieves across the North East. By sharing information about these criminals among retailers and police, many thieves have been caught in the act or stopped in their tracks before even entering a store.
Dawn Robinson, former NERCP manager and now North East regional executive for Retailers Against Crime, said: "We already know there are highly-organised teams of retail criminals who travel across the country to commit crime.
"As a result, we've been working with other retail crime partnerships from outside the North East region for some time. Now we're merging to create a bigger partnership covering all of the North East, Cumbria, Scotland and Northern Ireland." Retailers Against Crime now holds information on over 6,500 shop criminals - descriptions, where they operate, what they steal, and their vehicles. This information is used by around 1,400 retailers to help them avoid falling victim to shop crime..