Police in Andover have said they will be “out in force” in December to deter shoplifting in the run up to Christmas.

As part of Operation Scrooge, officers will be patrolling the streets of Andover town centre and retail parks, where they will liaise with retailers and give advice to shoppers.

They will also be carrying out a dual role as they enforce Covid legislation in the town, as tier two restrictions come into force across Test Valley.

Officers said that they have already arrested one Andover man on suspicion of four thefts from shops in the last few weeks.

PCSO Lee Thubron, from Andover’s neighbourhood policing team, said: “As Christmas approaches, more and more people will be out and about in our town’s shops and banks.

“Although we should all be following the social distancing guidelines, we must still be on our guard to deter shoplifters and organised crime groups.

“Andover is a safe place to live and work, but it is not immune to people who wish to take advantage of shoppers and businesses at this time of year.

“The aim of our operation is to deter criminals and detect crime, and ultimately provide reassurance to the public and businesses.

“We will continue to use tactics that have proved successful in previous years to make sure those who commit crime in the town centre are dealt with robustly.”

Police have issued advice to the public on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime during the Christmas period.

They advise shoppers to never leave bags unattended, “even if for a couple of seconds,” and keep wallets in an inside pocket to prevent pickpocketing.

For businesses, they recommend keeping high value items in a secure location or close to staff when on display, with any suspicious activity logged. Police also advise enduring that any extra stock for the festive period is not blocking CCTV cameras.

Operation Scrooge started at the end of November, and is due to run until Monday December 31.