Joseph Ford was sentenced to two years in prison for a series of offences

Two additional prolific shoplifters have been sentenced to prison and handed extensive bans from shops in Leeds city centre as part of a dedicated operation aimed at reducing and deterring retail theft in the lead-up to Christmas.

Officers from the Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team have intensified their efforts around shops in the bustling city centre during a period when there is traditionally a surge in offences.

This initiative involves targeting the core group of known offenders responsible for a significant portion of the crimes affecting city centre retailers.

Officers have collaborated closely with retailers and key partners, including Safer Leeds, Leeds Business Improvement District, Businesses Against Crime In Leeds, and Leeds City Centre Management, to maintain a longer-term problem-solving approach.

Specialist anti-social behaviour link officer PC Phil Underdown, from Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team, has successfully obtained Criminal Behaviour Orders against six prolific offenders.

Building upon problem-solving activities conducted since mid-October, the team has achieved a total of 34 arrests. Additionally, 21 Community Protection Notices have been issued, along with 16 stop searches, 232 proactive patrols and retailer reassurance visits, 53 crime prevention visits, and eight workshops delivered.

Yesterday, 41-year-old Joseph Ford from East Park Terrace, Leeds, was sentenced to two years in prison for a series of offences involving the theft of items, including chocolate, perfume, alcohol, and gloves, from city centre stores.

Ford received a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order prohibiting him from entering any Asda, Co-op, Go Outdoors, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Snow + Rock, Sports Direct, and Toolstation within the area bordered by and including Inner Ring Road, Willow Terrace Road, Calverley Street, Portland Street, Great George Street, Inner Ring Road, Westgate, East Parade, King Street, Wellington Street, New Station Street, Swinegate, The Calls, Call Lane, High Court, Kirkgate, St Peters Street and Eastgate, Crown Point Road, Bowman Lane, Waterloo Street, Hunslet Road, Bridge End, Sovereign Street, Neville Street, and Bishopgate Street.

Last week, 27-year-old James Nye of no fixed address was sentenced to 40 weeks imprisonment for 11 thefts from shops, one count of assault, and one charge of failing to provide a drug test sample.

Nye received a three-year Criminal Behaviour Order that prohibits him from entering all retail premises within the city centre, Crown Point Retail Park, and City South Retail Park.

Both individuals could face arrest and prosecution if they breach any of the conditions of the orders and may receive additional prison sentences.

Inspector Natasha Tierney, who heads the Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Our increased focus on retail crime in the run-up to Christmas has brought some very significant positive results, including prison sentences and lengthy criminal behaviour orders on some of our most prolific offenders.

“The hardcore of offenders, like Ford and Nye, who repeatedly target our city centre shops on a daily basis cause significant harm to local retailers.

“We hope the action that we have taken against them and others during this operation will provide some much-needed relief and reassurance to businesses at this key time of the year.

“We also hope the enforcement of these orders on their release from prison will help to steer them towards the help they need for the substance abuse issues that underlie their offending.

“We will be continuing to actively engage with retailers into the new year to support them in preventing shoplifting offences and catching and deterring those responsible.”