SHOPLIFTING is costing a Keighley business thousands of pounds.

Pickard Hardware says that since the start of this year alone, a dozen people suspected of stealing from its store have been caught.

Items taken have ranged from nuts and bolts to expensive power tools.

The firm, based in Airedale Road, has invested in 36 CCTV cameras in a bid to deter offenders and identify the perpetrators.

Dale Spencer, the company's managing director, says: "Some people will take a window lock or a door knob and stick it in their pocket thinking 'it is only a fiver – it doesn't matter', but all these things add up and it has a huge impact on our business.

"It's even worse when people break into packs to get one part, as it renders the pack incomplete and we then can’t sell it. It is so frustrating.

"Our staff have always been great at keeping an eye out, but the CCTV has definitely led to an increase in the number of people we've caught. However, it is still not completely deterring people.

"The CCTV has even captured images of so-called 'friends' of the business taking goods and not paying for them, thinking we are a soft touch. It’s very upsetting, as the majority of our customers are lovely and we're very trusting – but you start to doubt yourself.

"As these are not one-off incidents, we are now regularly reporting any suspected thefts to the police, and thanks to the excellent CCTV images we are confident there will be no difficulty in identifying the culprits."

He adds: "We pride ourselves on being a small, family business that sells our goods at fair prices, and we bring a lot of economic benefits to the town.

"By and large we have amazingly positive interactions with our customers and the community, but a small minority is having a negative impact on our business financially and on our team.

"We love to call Keighley home and hope that the local community can support us in our plea to stop the thefts."

West Yorkshire Police say concerns over thefts from retail premises are mirrored nationally, and that work is being carried out to address the issue across the force area.

A spokesperson says: "The West Yorkshire Police Partnership Business Crime Prevention Group is very much aware of the concerns of businesses regarding retail theft. This is an issue raised by business groups with police forces across much of the country.

"Neighbourhood policing teams are involved in a variety of projects with businesses and Business Improvement District groups. Within each policing district, intelligence officers regularly review acquisitive crime offences to identify patterns of offending and put robust plans in place to address them.

"Within West Yorkshire, we are working at both a force and district level to catch, convict and deter offenders, whilst engaging with retailers to ensure effective crime prevention and security measures are in place.

"When prolific offenders are identified and prosecuted, we also look to make use of measures such as criminal behaviour orders to control their offending and provide longer-term solutions."

Retail trade union Usdaw says that last year there was a 30 per cent increase in shoplifting across Yorkshire and the Humber, compared to 2022.

Paddy Lillis, for Usdaw, says: "This increase is further evidence that we are facing an epidemic of retail crime, which is hugely concerning.

"Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself for retail workers, such as anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm."