Shops hit by scale of town's drug problem

PUBLISHED: 14:12 29 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:45 20 April 2010

AN INCREASE in the number of thefts from Axminster shops is being linked to drug abuse and addicts' need to feed their habits.

AN INCREASE in the number of thefts from Axminster shops is being linked to drug abuse and addicts' need to feed their habits. A spokesperson for Boots said he had witnessed more incidents of shoplifting over the last year and believes a higher use of hard drugs could be to blame. PC Darren Herridge, Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Axminster, agreed the cost of financing a drug habit was fuelling thefts in the area. The Boots spokesperson said: "We know people come in here with the intention of removing stock, but we are aware and are keeping these people under surveillance. "But there's a problem in this town and all the shops are going to be affected, if they haven't been already. And I believe there's a connection with these incidents to the use of illicit drugs. "For the staff's protection, for the street's protection, something needs to be done. "An idea has been mooted among concerned business people to name and shame convicted shoplifters in line with current national trends." There have been a spate of 'petty thefts' across the town - with the Cooperative and charity shop Hospiscare among targets. PC Herridge said: "I think drug abuse is very much a motivator for theft. If you have to feed a £40 to £50 a day habit, you are talking about the best part of £400 a week. "There seem to be few cases of theft by adults caused by somebody just wanting something. It's to feed a habit. "I personally believe 95 per cent of such thefts are linked to drugs. And only two or three drug users can put crime through the roof. "It's a real problem. But any small town - despite appearing picture postcard perfect - will have the same issues. "It's just as easy to get heroin here as anywhere else. Where there's demand, there's supply. You get rid of one supplier - another appears." He said the police were treating the thefts seriously and were trying to tackle the drug problem as the root cause. But he admitted that, due to the scale of the problem, it would be no easy feat. Anyone with information about drug-related crime is urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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