LIGHT fingered thieves in Dudley could be in for a shock as a number of town centre stores have started to wage war on shoplifters.

Popular shops such as Iceland, Home Bargains and the 99p store have joined forces with local police to take property marking to a higher level.

They are invisibly marking shoplifter's favourite items in a bid to catch culprits.

The scheme is already beginning to bite as Dudley police officers have arrested and charged 12 people for shoplifting offences in the town centre.

Sergeant Corrina Griffiths, who is spearheading the scheme, said: "Among the 12 people arrested, two were sentenced to a total of 14 weeks in prison, while four more are awaiting sentence or trial.

"Our priority is to reduce shoplifting in Dudley town centre by arresting offenders and putting them before the courts.

"Offenders are primarily drug addicts who are stealing to sell goods to feed their addiction.

"In the process, shop staff are sometimes threatened or even assaulted and left feeling scared. This is unacceptable by anyone's standards.

"This new scheme means that if we stop a known or suspected criminal and they have items in their possession and can't provide proof of purchase, then we will use our UV light to see if the item has been marked.

"If it has, then we will escort that person to the shop in order for staff to identify them as a paying customer or not.

"It's hoped the measures will make Dudley town centre a no-go area for shoplifters."