Lincolnshire Police have blamed a one-man crime spree for a ‘spike’ in shoplifting offences that have sparked a year-on-year increase in reported crimes in the Market Rasen area.
Figures published on the Police UK website show 74 crimes were reported in Rasen this February compared to a total of 42 in February last year.
According to the website, the figures for February 2018 were the highest for any month in the last three years.
There were 21 shoplifting offences this February compared to four in the corresponding period last year - a rise of over 500 per cent.
However, Inspector Nigel Key, Community Policing Inspector for the West Lindsey area, said the increase in shoplifting was ‘primarily’ down to a single offender who had targeted one particular retail outlet in the town. The figures on the Police UK site also show an increase in anti-social behaviour, bicycle theft, criminal damage and arson, and violence and sexual offences.
However, police stress the relatively small number of crimes involved inflate the percentage increase.
They also point out not all crimes committed in the Rasen area have increased in the last 12 months.
For example, figures show that the number of robberies remained the same (zero), and the number of vehicle crimes decreased from three to two.
Insp Key said: “There are fairly large variations in monthly crime figures for Market Rasen, primarily because overall the area benefits from extremely low crime figures and a small increases in any particular area can make for huge percentage increases overall.
“In February 2018, Market Rasen had a spike in shoplifting offences reported to the police – almost three times the normal monthly figure. Had this not happened, the figures for January and February would have been almost identical in terms of overall crime.
“This crime (shoplifting) was in fact due primarily due to a single offender who had targeted one particular shop in Market Rasen so there was not a widespread problem across the town.
“January’s crime figures were comparable to the average over the previous 12 months, whereas February’s - due to the spike in shoplifting - was the highest.
“Interestingly, the following month (March) recorded the lowest overall crime figures recorded over the past 12 months, but again, due to the extremely small numbers, not too much can be read into this.
“Anti-social behaviour in February was exactly the same as the monthly average over the previous 12 months, whereas January was 33% lower than the norm.
“The violence offences recorded in February include a dog bite, an assault on a police officer, and an incident between two school children, so again this needs to be taken in context.
“Sexual offences in terms of numbers are extremely low, but increased confidence in reporting to police has seen an increase in overall reported crime, rather than an increase in actual crime committed.
“Generally speaking, Market Rasen enjoys very low crime figures, something which Lincolnshire Police in partnership with the community, is working very hard to maintain.
Market Rasen has a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ group which was set up on Facebook to warn residents about potential crime in their area.
A spokesman for the group said: “During a meeting with police, they emphasised the need for members of the public to report all crimes.
“The public sometimes feel that a crime isn’t worth reporting but this is very much something that residents should do.
“The police need to be made aware of crimes and the more people that report crimes will reflect a truer crime figure in our town and villages.”