EXTRA police patrols are being carried out in Haddington’s town centre after a spate of shoplifting.

Officers are to give the issue extra attention over the coming weeks after a number of businesses noted an increase in thefts.

Constable Lynn Black highlighted the issue at a recent meeting of the town’s community and police partnership (CAPP) meeting in Haddington Town House.

The Haddington town centre community ward officer told members: “Shopkeepers are concerned about the increase in shoplifting in the town centre.

“It is not just High Street but Market Street as well.

“It appears to be several persons, male and female.”

PC Black told the meeting that the issue was being handled by colleagues but it was hoped that CCTV would be used to help identify those responsible.

Previously, businesses in Haddington’s town centre used a Shopwatch scheme, which aims to ensure that shops are aware of potential shoplifters making their way between various stores in the town centre.

Shop owners can alert neighbouring businesses to potential thieves by phoning them with a description of the person and a warning.

Members of staff can then pass the message on to other businesses through a ring round service.

However, the service has fallen by the wayside in recent years, despite an attempt in 2015 to see it revived.

PC Black said that she, along with colleagues, would try to get out and speak to shop owners to give them advice on what they could do to deter potential thieves.

She added: “If they call us quickly we can shout to the CCTV operators and ask them to get the cameras pointed to a location.

“If we cannot get there, if we have got cameras following them then it is a start.

“The shop owners are a wee bit concerned about it.”

The officer stressed that it was not just the bigger retailers that were being targeted, with previous reports of Tesco and Boots among those hit by shoplifters.

PC Black added: “[Thefts from] Tesco and bigger stores are more of a regular thing.

“We do not tend to see the small shops [targeted] like this very often but there have been a few recently in the last few weeks.”

One business owner, who asked not to be named, confirmed that they had heard of more shoplifting incidents in recent weeks.

They said that there tended to be peaks and troughs when it came to shoplifting in the town and there was currently a peak.

Pat Lemmon, manager of the town’s Oxfam store, was another who had noticed an increase in shoplifting.

She said: “We are letting each other know quickly if there is a problem because we know each other.”