Plain clothed officers catch would-be crooks in the act.

SHOPLIFTERS were caught red-handed during a police sting in Barnstaple yesterday (Thursday).

Two were dealt with via the Restorative Justice programme while another was given a fixed penalty notice by plain clothed beat officers in the town centre.

A fourth was cautioned for possession of controlled drugs.

Police worked closely with CCTV operators and store detectives to identify offenders as part of a series of operations being rolled out in Barnstaple and other towns in the run-up to Christmas.

PCSO, Simon Barrett said: "This was a successful day with four offences being identified and dealt with. I would once again like to thank all the partners involved in the operation and am looking forward to the continuation of that co-operation.

"This forms part of a series of operations in Barnstaple and further afield to target shoplifting.

"There will be an increase in focus particularly on the run up to Christmas which sends a clear message that shoplifting will not be tolerated and that we are determined to disrupt and reduce offending."

David Freer, store manager at Boots in Barnstaple High Street, said: "I am delighted that we work so closely with the local police and CCTV to deter and prevent such offences.

"Shoplifting has a massive impact not only on store profits but also has a personal impact on our individual staff members. Anything we can do to reduce that impact is excellent."