ON the crime-ravaged streets of Britain's shoplifting capital, beleaguered business owners no longer turn to the police for help.
In Cleveland, where shop theft is skyrocketing along with the rest of Britain, offenders are "dealt with round the back" and swift summary justice can be acquired for as little as £1 a day.
None of this, of course, involves the police, who traders tell us they no longer trust to protect their businesses from an "out of control" crimewave.
In Parliament Rd, central Middlesbrough, two shop owners admitted to The Sun that they are paying for "private protection" from the same local hard man, because shoplifters now feel they are beyond the reach of the law.
The owner of an electrical store said: "I pay £37 a month for an alarm that is monitored by the police and I pay £30 a month to a bloke who is well-known in the neighbourhood – and he's the one that gives value for money.
"He's a guy that people don't want to cross and he came to me to say that for £1 a day he would look after my business. It's not something I decided lightly, but I agreed.
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"I've seen thefts drop ever since because he's made it known he's looking after me.
"I don't know what he does and I don't really care as long as it's effective. Unfortunately the police just can't help us any more and everybody knows it."
Over the last five years, Cleveland tops the table as the area with the most number of shoplifting crimes in the UK per 1,000 people, MailOnline reports.
Between 2018 and 2023, there were 32,378 reports of shoplifting in the region – working out at 56.80 crimes per 1,000 in population.
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