An Andover man has been charged as part of an anti-shoplifting operation in town.

Martin David De-Sandfort Shortell-Campbell, of Verity Square, was charged with three counts of shoplifting from the Co-op branch on Salisbury Road.

He was arrested as part of Operation Scrooge, which police say has resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in shoplifting offences in town compared with last year.

Hampshire Constabulary launched Operation Scrooge on November 16, and it ran until the end of last year. It was designed to deter shoplifting in the run up to Christmas wit high-visibility police patrols on the high street, in car parks and out-of-town retail hubs.

Police also liaised with local businesses within Andover town centre, and worked with the community to offer crime prevention advice, including providing free lanyards that could be attached to purses, wallets and bags to deter pickpockets.

As part of these efforts, Martin David De-Sandfort Shortell-Campbell was arrested. The 38-year-old will be sentenced at a later date. Four others were given community resolutions, which are informal responses which do not give the subject a criminal record, and include actions such as apologising or paying compensation.

Officers said that Operation Scrooge was a success, with a 40 per cent reduction in shoplifting reports in Andover between November and December when compared with 2019.

Inspector Chris Taylor said: “Andover is a safe places to live and work, but the community is not immune from those who want to take advantage of shoppers and retailers over the festive period.

“We will continue to look at a range of options to tackle offenders, including the use of Criminal Behaviour Orders for the most prolific offenders, which give the courts greater sentencing options.

“Despite these good results, we still believe that there is an underreporting of shoplifting offences. We want all businesses to report offences, which can be done online via the Hampshire Constabulary website or by dialling 101. This allows us to target our resources in order to support our stores, especially at Christmas.”