Police opened up their cells a week before Christmas to urge offenders to “clear their conscience” or face being arrested on the big day itself.
The cells at Wellingborough police station were open throughout Thursday with the hope that anyone wanted by police in connection with a crime would hand themselves in.
The cells are rarely used, but were opened for the day as part of an operation targeting repeat offenders from across the town.
In total five people handed themselves in for voluntary interviews and nine offenders were arrested.
In addition, Christmas cards were sent to people wanted for a variety of offences such as theft and burglary, with the message: if you ruin anybody’s Christmas, we’ll ruin yours.
Wellingborough Sector Inspector, Paul Valentine, said: “My message to offenders was this: call and see us or face arrest at any time of the day or night – including Christmas Day.
“This didn’t mean offenders were dealt with any differently if they handed themselves in, it just meant they had the chance to control when that is.
“It’s an unusual approach, but it worked.
“We are estimating that in excess of 20 crimes will be detected as a result of yesterday’s activity.”
The move was part of a countywide bid to keep incidents of theft, robbery and criminal damage to a minimum over the Christmas and New Year period.
Initiatives on retail crime, opportunist theft, street drinking and begging have been drawn up as part of Operation Lapland, the Force’s operation to drive down Christmas crime.
About 50 specially designed Christmas cards have been sent out to known offenders to urge them to come forward if they have been involved in any illegal activity.
Those on the police’s Christmas wish-list are low-level offenders such as shoplifters and those known to them.
Speaking yesterday, Insp Valentine said: “We have taken to writing to our suspects wishing them a crime-free Christmas.
“We want them to come and clear their consciences for Christmas.
“But I must be really clear we are not offering a lesser outcome.
“Even if you surrender yourself, you will go through the same process.”
Insp Valentine added: “If you get our Christmas card, you are on our radar.”
He also warned that officers will be out throughout the Christmas and New Year period so officers may be calling at your door any day soon.
Work is ongoing across the county to drive down Christmas crime.
Inspector Vaughan Clarke of Corby said: “Our normal daytime officers will focus on anti-social behaviour hotspots in Corby and we will see enhanced levels of policing in the town centre focusing on retail crime.”
Kettering Sector Inspector Richard Tall said: “Officers will be on duty and dedicated to tackling incidents of anti-social behaviour and retail crime.
“This will involve overt policing activity as well as plain clothes patrols.
“We are also linking in with the local retailers to offer prevention advice and share information.”