By Kitty Hill
TWENTY-ONE people were caught in a three-day shoplifting operation in Tamworth, including one brazen group of three that police allege tried to steal nearly $3000 worth of goods in two shopping trolleys by using a young mother as a lookout.
Oxley police arrested the three people as they wheeled the trolleys out the front door of the shopping centre, but they had to chase one man down Peel St to get him.
The police operations leader said some of the arrests were part of “organised stealing raids”, while other incidents were opportunistic crimes.
Operation Boost involved officers from the Oxley Target Action Group (TAG) and focused on shoplifting and stealing from shops in Tamworth from last Thursday to Saturday.
Five people were arrested and charged, and four court attendance and six criminal infringement notices were issued as a result.
One warning and five cautions were also issued to juveniles.
Larger stores, including Target and Coles, used loss-prevention officers to help with the operation.
TAG Sergeant Geoff Sharpe said it was a successful operation.
Two men and a woman will appear in Tamworth Local Court later this month charged with shoplifting after being arrested on Saturday as part of the operation.
Police allege the two men loaded $2800 worth of merchandise, including clothing and kitchenware, into two trolleys, directed by the 21-year-old female, who was pushing a baby in a pram.
After the group pushed the trolleys out the door without paying, police swooped, arresting the woman and one of the men at the front door.
The other man was chased by plainclothes police and a member of the community who helped arrest the man at the corner of Peel and Brisbane streets.
The trio have been granted conditional bail to appear at Tamworth Local Court on March 25.
Sergeant Sharpe said the group was organised and police believed other groups in Tamworth were organising similar stealing raids.
“Oxley police are committed to reducing such incidents and there will be further operations in months to come,” Sergeant Sharpe said.
“We are working with local businesses to arrest these people.”