Police in Aberdeen have been out and about in city centre stores as part of a crackdown on festive shoplifters.
In the run-up to Christmas retailers across the Granite City are trying to make sure they can recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
Police constables Graham Ewan and Melanie Reid, who are part of the city centre problem-solving team, visit stores every day, but the patrols are especially important in the build-up to December 25.
The Evening Express joined the pair as they patrolled retail outlets in the city centre.
Many of the major retailers have CCTV with a direct link to the control room based in the north-east division headquarters at Aberdeen’s Queen Street.
But officers continue to go out and provide a visible deterrent to anyone who thinks about stealing items from the city’s retailers.
Graham said: “I’d say it was more desperate times for people with job losses and things like that. It is making people chance their arm a little more.
“We are working hard and doing our best to identify people who are doing the shoplifting.
“We have a first-name basis with a lot of people including security staff and makes our job a little bit easier.”
Shaun Macpherson, manager of Cotswold in Union Square, said the festive period can often lead to spikes in thefts from the outdoor goods store.
“I think my benefit is that they know me and they came into to chat.
“With the high-end stuff we are selling we need something, and the police coming in and out does help.
“There is a massive spike compared to any other time of the year. It is almost stealing to order and we see people come in for a particular product.
“During any other time of year, it is usually £100 a week of goods to maybe £500 to £1,000 week of attempted theft.
“Average sale is £200 and the average theft is about £500.”
John Chalmers, the store detective at Next in Union Square, said they have a “good rapport” with the officers and having a camera system connection with Queen Street is important too.
He said: “It is quite good because we have a CCTV link to the police control room and as soon as we detain somebody the police are here in five minutes.
“There is quite a good rapport between us and the police.
“The CCTV link is good because we know if somebody is on Union Street we know they are coming to Union Square.
“I’ve been here for three years and we had 63 arrests last year. I am up to 32 so far this year but they are not coming in so much because they know they will get stopped or put out the shop.”
Michaela Mason, assistant manager of Boots in the Bon Accord Centre said: “It is a great help having the police here. We are trying to recover after Covid, but it is not easy when people are walking around with hundreds of pounds worth of stuff.
“We can only do so much. We can’t take goods out of people’s hands.”