13 April 2012, 06:00
Suspected shoplifters in East Cambridgeshire are getting home visits from police.
Officers are knocking on doors of those suspected of stealing from stores in places including Ely, Littleport and Soham to let them know they are being watched.
They will also be offered help from other agencies if their offending is linked to drug use.
The 'tough' new approach has been brought in to tackle key offenders.
It's one of a series of measures as part of Operation Wicket, which began earlier this month.
Speaking to Heart, Inspector Paul Ormerod said: "They know they're committing crime, so it should come as no surprise when a police officer knocks on their door and warns them this will bring consequences."
Insp Omerod added: "It's not a victimless crime, it affects the shops concerned, it affects the prices they then have to rise so it affects all of us."
There were 172 offences of shoplifting in East Cambs during 2011, there have been 46 so far this year.
Sergeant Will Davis told Heart: "We are taking a much more focused approach to shoplifting, which starts with going directly to those suspected of being prolific offenders.
We'll visit them and tell them we're targeting them, will be monitoring them and will lock them up if they put a foot out of line."
Shoplifting is usually just the tip of the iceberg; we often find people who steal from shops are also involved in other criminality such as burglary or drugs.
During the visits we will offer help and support to those who may be stealing to fund drug habits or due to unemployment, but ultimately some are just intent on committing crime and they need to be stopped."