A police crackdown on begging in Totnes has seen car crime and shoplifting shoot up in the town, police have warned.
Police are continuing to operate covert patrols in the town to deal with the crime rise. But they are warning people not to leave valuables in their vehicles overnight.
A police spokesman said: “In the past seven days, we have seen an increase in acquisitive crime, including theft or attempted theft from motor vehicles and shoplifting.
“This was anticipated due to a more robust approach in relation to begging, where the income of individuals has been dramatically reduced.”
Police launched their crackdown following growing concerns in Totnes about aggressive begging and drug use, and claims that beggars were being drawn into the town because they could make more than £100 a day from generous residents and visitors.
Town councillors demanding action called for zero tolerance on begging and asked police to step in.
Operation Applerose was launched as police issued warning letters to beggars that they would be arrested if they continued begging. They also handed out notices banning some from the town centre for 24 hours at a time.
The police statement issued through social media also warned residents: “Please do not buy meat or any other item from any person who approaches you in the street or in a pub or coffee shop. These items are likely to have been stolen and if you knew or ought to have known that these items were stolen, you too commit an offence.
“We are working with South Hams District Council, Caring Town Totnes, the drop-in centre and others to provide support for those in need of it, paying particular attention to those who do not engage.
“In the meantime, please ensure no valuables are left in cars overnight and ensure they are locked. Marked and unmarked patrols are continuing during the night.”