Belfast Telegraph

Dissident threats and counterfeit notes a real threat to retailers this Christmas, say police

By Ricky Thompson

Retailers must be aware of dissident threats and a rise in counterfeit money in the run up to Christmas, according to police.

On Monday the PSNI held a ‘multidisciplinary information and awareness’ event in Belfast to highlight crimes threatening retailers.

Among the topics discussed were credit card fraud, tiger kidnapping, shop theft, robbery, the risk of terrorism and counterfeit currency.

Counterfeit notes have been increasing in number across Northern Ireland, according to Aidan O’Reilly, Transmission Manager at Ulster Bank. He said retailers need to be educated about what kind of counterfeits are in circulation.

“The big thing is the paper that’s used", he said.

"Real notes are printed from cotton fabric and forgeries are on paper. There’s a distinct difference in how they feel.

“Also, the colours aren’t as bright, the foils on the notes aren’t accurate and the threads on them as well.

“There are other things retailers can look out for. It’s just being vigilant and having counterfeit pens or ultraviolet light to check them.  If they’re checking the forgeries, that’s going to put people off.”  He added: “Last year in Northern Ireland there were almost 500,000 forgeries passed, which was a distinct increase on the year before.”

Mr O’Reilly said the transition to plastic/polymer notes in 2016 and 2017 will decrease the number of counterfeits.

The event also made retailers aware of their rights when confronting a criminal on their property. Chief Inspector Bobby Singleton, Area Commander for North Belfast, said: “There are both common law powers for people to be able to arrest and there are other powers which allow traders to detain persons who have committed offences on their premises.

“Today’s event is all about the PSNI working together with retailers to look at ways, collectively, that we can make their stores safer.”

He continued: “Unfortunately the context in which we all have to operate is that there remains a number of people who are committed to carrying out actions in opposition to the peace process. 

The dangers to traders posed by dissident republicans were made apparent only last year when the Golf Madness store in the Cornmarket area of Belfast city centre was targeted by a man with an incendiary device.

Mr Singleton said: “Last Christmas served as a reminder of just how disruptive those incidents can be to both ordinary life and the commercial sector.

“A key focus is to provide people with information of how they can deal with those kinds of situations should they arise.”

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