A year since the formation of the Loughton Town Centre policing team, officers have seen it all.

From catching a thief who targeted elderly people at cashpoints, to dismantling cannabis factories, forming relationships with businesses and the community, and going out on patrol, the day to day life for these officers is varied.

During patrols the town centre team have caught shoplifters, including one prolific thief who is now banned from entering the Epping Forest District after the team secured a criminal behaviour order at court.

They also set up an operation to find a thief who had distracted elderly residents at a cash machine in order to steal their money.

Omar Naeem, 36, targeted four victims between October and December last year. They were all using the cash machine outside Lloyds, and on each occasion, he distracted them and used their cards to withdraw a total of £2,000.

The team set up an operation to catch him and were monitoring live CCTV in the bank when they saw Naeem unsuccessfully attempt to distract another victim.

He fled but was found and arrested in Buckhurst Hill.

Naeem, of Whitwell Road, Plaistow, admitted the offences and was jailed in April for two years and two months.

The victims also received refunds to cover the money that had been stolen from them.

The town centre team have also helped shut down three cannabis factories, which contained plants with a street value of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The team also recovered several stolen vehicles after executing a warrant at a site where stolen cars were being dismantled for car parts.

Sgt Rob Fitt said: “The town team has spent the last year integrating within the community and forging close relationships with businesses.

“We have had some brilliant results and carried out thousands of hours of foot patrols, providing reassurance to the community with the welcome sight of feet on ground across our busy shopping areas.

“I am looking forward to building on the work we have already done and targeting those who cause most harm to our district.”

PC Charlotte O’Brien, who joins the team next month, said: “I’m looking forward to getting out and about in Loughton and being part of a new team.

“It’s a good opportunity to really focus on the community and engage with the local residents and shops.

“I’m looking forward to working with our partners around Epping Forest District and really making a difference.

“Hopefully with our high visibility presence this will prevent and deter crime and bring reassurance to the high street.”

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