Tasmania Police patrols lead to drug busts, less shop stealing offences

A man selling drugs in a Launceston alleyway has been nabbed by police after a tip-off from the public.

Tasmania Police officers, along with drug detector dog Fang, searched Tatler Arcade on Monday afternoon where they located the man offloading illegal pharmaceuticals. 

Launceston Inspector Darren Hopkins said police had received reports of anti-social behaviour in the area of the St John Street bus stops, which led to the search by uniform officers and detectives from the Northern Drug Investigation Services.

The man was found to be selling a number of drugs including depressants and will be charged with drug-related offences.

The search was also part of an overall crackdown on criminal activity in the central business district and other retail precincts, with police increasing their patrols.

Last month, officers took Fang into the city and to shopping centres around Launceston where they searched a number of people. The patrols saw four people charged with drug possession and an offender located with a large knife.

“Launceston police will continue with high-visibility and drug dog patrols in business districts around the greater Launceston area to improve public safety and deter criminal activity,” Inspector Hopkins said.

Inspector Hopkins said the initiative was also about warding off potential shoplifters. 

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In June, Tasmania Police and Launceston business owners joined forces in an attempt to put a stop to shop stealing – with some retailers losing tens of thousands to thieves each years.

Since then, the number of shop stealing offences have dropped 4 per cent and the number of offenders caught by police has risen nearly 14 per cent.

Police have conducted 42 searches at homes and in cars for potential stolen property and seen a 10.8 per cent increase in recovered items.

Inspector Hopkins said the Northern Criminal Investigation Branch was conducting regular computer checks to detect the buying and selling of stolen goods online and retailers were using social media and CCTV to identify offenders and assist police with their investigations.

CRACKDOWN: Wanted Streetwear owner and Launceston Retail Watch founder Luke Dawson with Sergeant Stuart Greenwood and Constable Benjamin Pearce-Lieutier. PIcture: Phillip Biggs

CRACKDOWN: Wanted Streetwear owner and Launceston Retail Watch founder Luke Dawson with Sergeant Stuart Greenwood and Constable Benjamin Pearce-Lieutier. PIcture: Phillip Biggs

“Shop stealing is a crime,” Inspector Hopkins said. 

“It makes up a significant part of overall crime for the area and Tasmania Police intend to focus on the problem in an effort to work with our retail partners to reduce the instances and impact on businesses.”

Police patrols, which will include Fang the drug detector dog, will continue regularly in Launceston, Kings Meadows, Prospect, Mowbray, Kmart complex, Ravenswood and Riverside.