CRIMINALS intending to rob Merseyside bookmakers during this year’s Aintree Festival have been told the odds are stacked against them.

Officers from Merseyside Police have been working closely with bookmakers across the country to ensure offenders fall at the first hurdle.

Dozens of betting shops are being visited by local neighbourhood officers who are offering crime prevention advice.

The aim is to make sure betting staff are on the alert for suspicious behaviour and report anything unusual in or outside their business to the police or Crimestoppers.

Chief Inspector Jenny Sims, the force’s retail crime lead, said potential robbers were more likely to end up facing a judge than successful stealing cash.

She said: “Targeting a bookmakers really is an odds-on way of getting yourself sent to prison for a long time.”

The police and the betting industry work closely to ensure bookmakers have the latest CCTV in and outside their premises, fogging devices to disorientate an offender once inside, and dye capsules that can explode, ruining cash and staining the offender’s skin and clothes.

CI Sims added: “Bookmakers also have enhanced cash protection systems that keep the amount of readily available cash to an absolute minimum.
“An armed robber could be risking five or six years in prison going after what in reality turns out to be only a few hundred pounds. “

Betting shop staff are increasingly vigilant to suspicious behaviour and police officers will be giving them extra attention during Aintree as Merseyside experiences a surge in betting.

CI Sims concluded: “It is in everyone’s interests – the bookies, their customers, the police, the other neighbouring businesses – to work together to combat this threat from criminals who seek to line their pockets with other people’s hard-earned money.”