"SHOPLIFTERS beware - we're going to get you!"

That's the message from police at Skipton, who have just launched a "get tough" operation against thieves to stem a recent rise in shoplifting in the town.

Officers have seen a 62 per cent surge in shoplifting incidents – 39 in the year so far, compared with 25 for the same period in previous years.

Now police have joined with retailers to launch a drive - dubbed Operation Nesbit - to crack down on shop thieves.

As part of the operation, shop staff are being trained to identify the main types of crime against retailers and are receiving training in how to deal with shoplifters.

Retailers have invested in increased physical and technical security, while police have invested in covert equipment and intelligence-gathering.

And images of shoplifters are being shared with retailers as part of an agreement with the help of the Business Criminal Reduction Partnership (BCRP).

Inspector Geoff Crocker, of Skipton Police, warned that he wants to see offenders before the courts.

He said: “We have seen an increase in thefts from shops in Skipton since April compared with the last two years.

“It is a fact that most people do not steal and thieving from shops is not a victimless crime.

"We are taking a no-nonsense approach to this problem and 25 shoplifters have already been arrested and prosecuted in Craven this year.

“Of the arrests this year very few are claiming any sort of hardship. Stealing packs of 10 steaks from a supermarket or expensive perfume from a department store is about feeding a drug habit.

“We are going after the thieves and I want to put them in front of Skipton Magistrates' Court.”

Officers are also working with neighbouring forces and the BCRP to identify suspects and ensure travelling criminals cannot get into North Yorkshire to target communities.

Inspector Crocker warned that anyone who is caught coming into Skipton to commit crime will be arrested and transported to the cells in Harrogate. Once they are released they will have to make their own way home.

He said: "Anyone arrested in Skipton is now taken to our modern custody facility in Harrogate. Unless people are deemed vulnerable, we are under no obligation to provide transport home once released.

“The message is clear - don’t come to Craven with the intent of committing crime. ”

The maximum penalties on conviction for shoplifting are six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine at magistrates’ court and seven years’ imprisonment and/or a fine at crown court.

Where the value of the property stolen is under £100, in certain cases the police can issue a Penalty Notice for £90.

Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111.