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Shoplifting is up – and self-service checkouts are the cause

Figures collected by 27 police forces from across the UK and released under the Freedom of Information act has revealed an increase of shoplifting of more than 7% over the past four years.

The shocking statistic found there were 78,110 shoplifting incidents in 2017 compared to 74,662 in 2016, 74,124 in 2015 and 72,423 in 2014.

The rise of self-service checkouts at supermarkets is attributed as a major factor.

Other incomplete figures show there were a further 46,973 shoplifting incidents along with an additional 1,659 thefts at supermarkets during 2018 until the end of the summer period.

“These figures indicate that, despite the best efforts of our members, criminals are increasingly targeting supermarkets,” said James Martin, Crime and Security Adviser at The British Retail Consortium.

“Ultimately, the costs are borne by everyday shoppers and those who rely on retail for their livelihoods. We acknowledge the difficult resourcing and prioritisation decisions which police forces face, but it is clearly time that every police force gives retail crime the strategic priority it deserves.”

Data shows that there were over 400,565 shoplifting incidents between 2014-2018 made to the police to England and Wales, with a further 59,121 call-outs recorded by police from supermarkets, such as pickpocketing, bicycle theft and raiding coin meters.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “The sad fact is that as forces struggle to meet 999-call demand, incidents such as these are increasingly likely not to be attended by officers at all which, as a serving police constable with 26 years’ service, I find quite shocking.”

Wholesale and retail crime on the increase

A new report by the Government has revealed that crime within the wholesale and retail sector has increased compared to previous years.

The 2017 Commercial Victimisation Survey found that there were 8.1 million incidents of crime reported in 2017, compared to 7.7 million in 2012 and 5.2 million in 2016.

Shoplifting remains the most common crime type, accounting for 63% of all crimes, although this is down on reported incidents in 2015 (72%). The average cost of shoplifting per victim is higher than it was in 2012, £500, compared with £237 in 2012.

Low value items, such as milk or bread, were the most common food items stolen, with 53% of premises reporting this was the case in shoplifting incidents.

Premises are now more likely to report cases of shoplifting to the police, with around a quarter admitting they would notify the authorities to the theft of items from stores.