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Almost 70 charges have been brought against suspects in Maidstone linked to offences including shoplifting, assaults and hate crimes.
The charges were made over the past month and are all connected to cases investigated by the town’s Victim Based Crime Team (VBCT), which is focused on deterring prolific offenders and reducing the negative impact crime can have upon local communities and businesses.
One of the issues VBCT constables remain focused on is in helping retailers combat thieves and associated crimes such as abuse and threats made to shop staff.
On 25 November 2022, it is alleged that Dave O’Connell entered a Co-op in Loose Road and stole alcohol. He is also reported to have struck an employee in the face and shouted racial abuse at him.
Mr O’Connell, 34, of Meadowbank Road, Chatham now faces charges of racially aggravated assault, public order offences and shoplifting and will appear before Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on 27 February 2023.
Another theft related investigation involves John Vidler, 31 and Alice Collins, 29, who are charged in connection with allegations a phone belonging to a child was stolen as he was playing football on a recreational area in Marden, in December last year.
They will both appear before Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on 1 March 2023.
Hate motivated offences are also a priority for VBCT officers. During the early hours of 22 July 2022, two men were allegedly assaulted as they were walking home from a night out in Maidstone town centre.
The victims were said to have also been subjected to homophobic abuse and threats.
Ben Marshall, 23, of Lister Close, East Malling, and a second suspect from Scotland were arrested and both have now been charged with two counts of assault and two counts of using threatening words or behaviour intending thereby to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
They are bailed to appear at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court on 17 March.
District Commander for Maidstone, Chief Inspector Mark McLellan said: ‘Maidstone is by and large a safe place to live and visit, but like any town it will have ongoing issues often linked to those posed by prolific or repeat offenders. 'This is why tackling crimes such as shopliftings, petty theft and street disorder are so important in building trust and confidence among the communities we serve. 'We will never accept that retail staff should have to deal with confrontations or threats as part of their jobs, or that young people should ever feel they need to look over their shoulders after enjoying an evening out.’