Kent Police and the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) have noticed a marked increase in offences of theft from outlets selling mobile phones and tablets. The majority of offences are on the High Street with 2/3/4 offenders entering and ripping away handsets from secure units. Violence is used to remove the handsets and staff are threatened not to interfere.
Most employees are fully aware that they should not get involved with the offenders and stand back. Kent Police and the NBCC fully endorse that stance and encourage staff to walk away and do not place themselves in any danger by attempting to stop or detain these individuals.
The standard advice on calling 999 are under the following circumstances:-
- Call when it’s an emergency
- A crime is in progress
- Someone is suspected of a crime is nearby
- Where there is a danger to life
- When violence is being used or threatened
It is clear that these offences fall under a crime in process and may progress into violence being used or threatened.
If a call is made through the 999 system then the operator would require precise information:-
- Your location including post code.
- Brief account of what is happening.
- Number and description of offenders including any distinctive clothing.
- Any weapons seen any threats made.
- Direction of travel when leaving the store. (If possible)
This would then would start a process where Police attendance would be swift and make sure that staff are safe, evidence is captured promptly (CCTV and Forensic evidence) and a search can commence for the offenders through town centre CCTV systems/officers patrolling.
Kent Police and the NBCC would also encourage staff to press any panic alarm that is linked directly to the Police control room when an offence of this nature is being committed. This response should be the same as if a 999 call was made.
We recognise some outlets are reluctant to use the 999 system and wish to allay these fears. If a crime is in progress as outlined then 999 should be called when staff are safe and feel comfortable to do so.
Kent Police and NBCC also offer the following advice for after the offenders have left:-
- Make sure all staff are safe and well. The shock of this type of offence affects people differently and if a member of staff has a medical condition then an ambulance may be required.
- Preserve the area where the offenders have ripped the phones from the display until Police arrive. If the shop remains open this may be as simple as a member of staff directing customers to other areas of the store.
- Prompt recovery of the CCTV for officers to view to circulate further descriptions via their personal radios. Images and descriptions can then be circulated to other stores to prevent and detect crime. We would encourage staff to use the 999 system when moving away from the shop floor away from view whilst the offence is taking place. This must only be done when safe to do so and when the member of staff feels comfortable.