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Business crime and licensing officers making stolen goods too hot to handle Published Date: 25/02/2024

We’ve launched a new awareness campaign to make stolen goods too hot to handle within the retail sector.

Our Business Crime Team and Licensing Unit want to stop thieves being able to sell shoplifted goods to shops, stores and other licensed premises in Essex.

Since 1 January, our officers have made a total of 221 arrests for shop theft.

Yesterday, 20 February 2024, officers visited seven convenience stores in Westcliff to sign up the first retailers to their Operation Pedlar scheme.

Sergeant Christian Denning says:

“We want everyone to know that the selling and purchasing of stolen goods is not permitted and to remind retailers how easy it is to report any crime to us.

“We’re asking business owners and retail staff to sign up to our Responsible Retailer agreement, which asks them to buy stock from legitimate sources only, display public awareness and staff guidance posters and share information with us about people who offer them stolen goods.

“Additionally, we’re reminding retail staff they have the power to refuse entry to people who do so and they can remove them from the premises.

“Everyone we asked on Tuesday agreed to sign up, which was very encouraging. We will be spreading the word during our regular visits to shops and businesses across the county.”

One of our specialist business crime officers and a licensing officer ask a member of retail staff to display the Operation Pedlar poster in the store window

Operation Pedlar looks to remove the financial incentive for thieves and, therefore, remove the benefits of theft. If one store is known to buy stolen items, then stores nearby are likely to suffer from thefts.

Christian adds:

“We are tackling shop theft from different angles. Through Operation Pedlar we’re reducing opportunities for thieves to sell their ill-gotten goods and through our drug testing on arrest scheme, we’re helping to break the cycle of offending if people are stealing to feed their addictions.

“Everyone arrested for acquisitive crimes such as shop theft are tested for Class A drugs while they are in our custody and those who test positive are required to attend a drug treatment assessment with one of the three charities our force works with.

“Working together, we can help to make our communities better places to live, work and visit.

“If you know of any stolen goods being resold in stores, you can report it to us online at or ring 101. If you can, please remember to add the phrase ‘Op Pedlar’ to your report.”

Our business crime officers are working with our licensing officers on this new initiative.

Alcohol licensing manager Gordon Ashford warns:

“We take the selling of stolen goods, particularly on licensed premises, extremely seriously.

“If a licence-holder is suspected of doing so then, alongside any criminal investigation, my team will seek the revocation of a premises licence to sell alcohol if there is evidence to do so.

“In some cases, this may mean a licence is suspended ahead of any hearing.”

The Essex Police Responsible Retailer agreement

  1. Agree to buy stock from legitimate sources

  2. Agree to prominently display public awareness and staff guidance posters highlighting the business as a responsible retailer and that no goods will be purchased from visitors

  3. Understand that retail staff have the power to refuse entry and remove unwanted persons from their premises

  4. Agree to share any relevant information with police regarding people selling or buying stolen goods