Four people have been charged with stealing champagne worth more than £700 during a crackdown on shoplifting in Eastbourne.

Officers from the Neighbourhood Policing Team joined with partners from the Eastbourne Business Crime Group, the Eastbourne Business Wardens, and the Beacon Security on Wednesday 4 October for a day of action to tackle business crime in the town.

During the day of action, officers liaised with several businesses to offer advice and support, and to discuss recent shoplifting incidents. Suspects were identified as a result of these conversations and enquiries are ongoing to locate them.

Multiple Section 23 searches were also conducted in the town centre resulting in the seizure of a crowbar.

Around 10am, police received a report of a theft from Waitrose in High Street, believed to have taken place the day before.

Through CCTV enquiries and area searches, a vehicle was found in nearby Wilmington and a significant amount of suspected stolen goods were recovered. Martin Elliot, 46, of Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, Laura Page, 38, of Colemore Square, Havant, Tammy Vinall, 38, of Steep Close, Havant, and Lois Ferris, 31, of Athena Avenue, Waterlooville, were arrested on suspicion of theft.

Each suspect has since been charged with two counts of theft and released on bail, due to appear at court on 5 and 30 November.

Inspector Simon Burroughs, of the Eastbourne Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We recognise the theft and shoplifting challenges faced by businesses, with staff sometimes at risk of harm if they intervene.

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime. It has a massive impact on our local economy and is a sign and pre-cursor to other harm, such as drug use, violence, and exploitation.

“This day of action was just part of our ongoing work to tackle business crime and support local businesses – we are committed to addressing this issue.”

Adam Godden, Specialist Advisor for business crime at Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “These days of additional support from Sussex Police are greatly received by the business community. It shows that having communication through the ShopWatch radios allows officers to act swiftly to apprehend individuals who would seem intent on committing crimes within our town and county.

“This reaffirms that Sussex Police take shoplifting seriously and the importance of the ongoing partnership work to combat business crime.”

For more advice on business crime, visit our website here.