A NEW scheme has been launched in Thornbury to help protect the town from thieves.

So far 15 stores have signed up to the Shop Watch scheme, including the main supermarkets, as well as other shops in High Street, Oakleaze Road and in the St Mary Centre.

Under the system, police can share information - including photographs of convicted offenders - about shoplifters, thieves and anyone involved in anti-social behaviour with security staff in the stores and shopping centre.

Anyone caught shoplifting, stealing from shoppers or causing anti-social behaviour in a store will be banned from the premises, with a second conviction resulting in a ban from all 15 of them.

Neighbourhood PC Sean White said: “We have good relationships with local shops and this is a scheme which already works successfully in other areas.

“It will help us tackle shoplifting and also deter the thieves who steal from shoppers. We also hope it will help us deal with people responsible for anti-social behaviour in and around the shops.”

Four people with recent convictions for shoplifting offences in Thornbury have already been banned from all the Shop Watch stores.

Malcolm Kitteringham, the St Mary Centre security controller, said: “This is a good scheme which warns us about people known to have committed crime locally.”

Marlyn O’Sullivan, manager of Card Bar, said: “It’s a good idea and hopefully it will stop petty crime. This sort of theft has a real impact on the business and drives up prices for our customers.”