Caroline Springs police are cracking down on shoplifting and anti-social behaviour to curb repeat offending.

Plain clothes police made up to 20 arrests across five operations in as many weeks at Caroline Springs shopping centre.

Police, with the help of centre loss prevention officers and security, made eight arrests over a six-hour blitz last Wednesday.

Senior Sergeant Jason Dolman said the “grassroots approach” was aimed at simple offending with potential to contribute to more serious crime.

“Over the five operations that have been conducted, we’ve made a number of arrests,” he said.

“They’ve included persons from outside the area … we’re doing our bit to deter the people coming in and stealing.”

Among the offenders, a 62-year-old man and 58-year-old woman were caught attempting to shoplift makeup in a pram and other items in the woman’s handbag. In other incidents, a 52-year-old woman was seen placing meat trays into her handbag and down her pants and a 62-year-old man was nabbed placing toothpaste into a pocket and tea towels down his pants.

All will appear at Sunshine Magistrates Court at a later date.

“As the common, essential goods become more expensive, people start to steal them,” Senior Sergeant Dolman said.

“Things like petrol and meat are no longer a cheap commodity – and the need for police to target these thefts increases.”

He said the aim of his officers was to deliver proactive work in the community to drive down crime.

“I think [Caroline Springs police] have to be more proactive and out there engaging with the community,” he said.

“We will continue to deliver our shop-steal operations, breath-testing operations and our petrol drive-off operations. That will help drive down crime and reinforce the perception of safety.”

CS Square shopping centre manager Rod Kennedy said the safety and wellbeing of customers and retailers was the “No.1 priority”.