The chairman of Larne Traders’ Forum has called on police to make themselves “more visible” in the town centre in a bid to deter shoplifters.
John Shannon, who runs Inver Garden Centre at Millbrook, believes legal highs have played a major role in the dramatic rise of shoplifting offences over the past year.
He added: “It is widely known that legal highs are readily available in Larne and this is attracting a very undesirable element to the town.
“In a bid to feed their addiction, some people are stealing from shops and selling on the items to pay for these very dangerous substances.
“Shoplifting has become a major problem for local traders.”
Mr Shannon is encouraging town centre businesses to take extra precautions against criminals.
And he feels there is currently no real deterrent for thieves due to what he described as a “lack of police presence” in the town.
Mr Shannon said: “Police need to take a more pro-active approach and have a higher profile in Larne.
“It is not often you will see a police foot patrol in the town centre, and unless that changes this problem will not go away.
“A regular PSNI patrol in Larne town centre area would make a big difference to traders.”