In genteel Eastbourne, as elsewhere, some of society's underbelly can be found. And Trevor Wratten, who trades there as The Devonshire Stores, has seen quite a few.
He responded to my 'naming and shaming' piece in the June 29 issue where Farooq Alam put CCTV stills of shoplifters up on the wall for the world to see. Trevor goes one better.
"I feature the 'shoplifter of the week' award," says Trevor, "smack on the front of the lottery terminal at eye level. The police said that it's breaking human rights and so I said let them sue me!"
As an aside to this, I read Rich Airey's report in the same C-Store issue on Spar retailer Mark Cleary's efforts to reduce crime at his seven stores in and around Manchester. Mark is to introduce a Crimewatch-style anonymous phone line for people to 'shop' the criminals, as customers are often loathe to grass up people they know.
This doesn't happen at Trevor's gaff. It may be because the area suffers from a few hostels housing the down-and-outs sent there by Brighton Council (I guess this is like paying to ship your nuclear waste to Mongolia or wherever).
His rogue's gallery often gets fingered by the public who congratulate him on taking a stand.
"I had one yesterday," he told me. "A bloke stole a bottle of Amaretto, £14 retail, and I got it on tape, printed his picture and put it up. A customer came in today and said they knew where he lived.
"That bloke had just broken bail. I told the police and they're after him. I've had convictions for the last five shoplifters here. Only the newcomers try it now. The local oiks all know better. I just think 'Sod it, I pay my taxes and they're all on benefits and living at our expense'. Then they pinch from us, too."
Trevor installed his super-duper CCTV system last September when refitting the store. It cost him £6,500 for eight cameras, six inside and two outside to stop 'grazers' pinching the bananas on their way past.
Coincidentally, I was chatting to Carole Scholes. Those with long memories will recall her frequent (and photogenic) appearances on
C-Store's pages. She's out of retailing now but was always interesting and a bit of an activist in her fights (which she won) with Trading Standards over sales to the underaged. She passes on a good snooping tip to keep tabs on staff via CCTV.
"You can get systems with a little microphone so you can pick up sound. It means you can hear when staff say to customers 'Nah, if it ain't on the shelf, we ain't got it', so it's a good training tool."

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