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Officers from Merseyside Police arrested 17 people and visited a large number of off licenses, convenience stores and bookmakers across the foce area last week as part of an operation to crackdown on business robberies.

Since the beginning of January there have been a number of business robberies across the county. The main premises targeted during January have been convenience stores, newsagents and fast food outlets. In the majority of offences, offenders have been armed, and have predominantly targeted premises for cash and large quantities of cigarettes.

As part of the operation, which ran between Wednesday, 19 February and Sunday, 23 February, officers have been visiting businesses and carried out security and safety assessments and offer suggestions and advice. A number of businesses have also been given access to forensic sprays to security mark stock, fogging devices (which can be set off by shopkeepers to disorientate offenders) and trackers (which are put in items within the shop so that they can be traced if they are stolen). These patrols were be complemented by plain-clothes officers across the area.

During the operation 17 people were arrested; 12 people were arrested on suspicion of possessing class A and B drugs, one person was arrested for being wanted on warrant, two people were arrested on suspicion of possessing ammunition and two people were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cocaine.

Three premises were also searched and seven vehicles were seized for various offences as part of the operation.

Chief Inspector Jenny Sims, said: “These incidents have been extremely distressing for the staff members and customers involved and we recognise the serious impact robberies can have, especially for small businesses.

“These businesses provide vital service to the community; so preventing these crimes is in everyone’s interest. We will not tolerate these offenders who cause fear in the community and are targeting people who are trying to make a living. We will do everything within our power to prevent and deter this type of crime and arrest those responsible.

“I hope the action taken by the force this week helps to reassure local businesses that we are working hard to trace those responsible for these offences and bring them to justice.

“I’m sure the community of Merseyside would agree that the people responsible for these incidents should be brought to justice and I would urge anyone with information that could help us bring these offenders to justice to contact us on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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