Two men have been arrested on suspicion of stealing from shops in Bolton town centre.

According to Greater Manchester Police, two men – aged 57 and 67 – were found by police in the area after reports of thefts from shops.

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Both men were searched and were found to be in possession of stolen items from local stores, police said.

The men remain in custody for questioning.

In a post on Facebook, GMP's Bolton South team said:  “Whilst on patrol today, officers were alerted to a report of two males stealing items from shops within the Town Centre.

“Two males, aged 57 and 56, were located nearby attempting to sell the stolen items.

“Both were searched and and found to be in possession of further stolen items from local stores.

“They remain in custody for questioning.”

Earlier this year, Bolton’s shopkeepers said they had faced abuse with shoplifting ‘rife’.

Last summer, GMP launched a ‘high street squad’ in Bolton to tackle robberies, burglaries, and shoplifting.

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Data released last month shows that the number of shoplifting offences recorded by police in England and Wales has risen to the highest level in 20 years.

A total of 430,104 offences were logged by forces last year, up more than a third (37 per cent) on the 315,040 recorded in the previous 12 months to December 2022.

The figure is the highest since current records began in the year to March 2003, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which described the latest increase as “notable”.

The figures also show the number of offences involving theft from the person stood at 125,563 in 2023, up 18 per cent from 106,606 in 2022 and is the highest level since 2004 (137,154).

The number of robberies recorded rose by 13 per cent last year to 81,094, up from 71,983 in 2022 – although this is still 26 per cent lower than the year ending March 2003 (110,271).

Last month, The College of Policing said the nationwide rise in shoplifting is “worrying”, adding: “We know shoplifting is a major public concern, and that’s why we’re boosting our guidance, providing additional support and being clear on the standards expected.

“There is more to do, and we will continue to focus attention on this crime.”

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