Shoplifting cases spike in UK; beef, cheese, coffee main targets

London, Jun 1 (IANS): Amidst an increase in the number of shoplifting cases in the UK, supermarkets are fitting steak and cheese with security tags and replacing coffee with dummy jars as these are the most targeted items, the media reported.

In March, police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland recorded nearly 33,000 incidents of shoplifting, according to data analysed by the BBC.

This was a significant 30.9 per cent increase compared with March last year.

According to the data, shoplifting offences have now returned to pre-pandemic levels as the cost of living is on the rise.

The spikes come as food prices are rising at the fastest rate in nearly 45 years.

Grocery prices increased by 19.1 per cent in the year to April, which was down slightly from March but still close to record highs. Staples like sugar, milk and pasta were all up sharply, the BBC reported citing the latest official figures.

Photos circulating on social media have shown the range of anti-shoplifting measures being taken at different supermarkets.

One user posted a picture of steaks enclosed in security devices at a store. "They're packaging steaks like they're gold bars," the user wrote.

Another user posted a picture of "dummy" coffee jars on a shelf at Co-op, with customers told to ask at the counter if they want to buy the real thing.

"Cost of living reaching new heights, my local Co-op is now a grocery show room," she wrote.

A Co-op spokesperson told the BBC that these are not nationwide policies at their stores.

"Protecting the safety of our colleagues is a priority and we know shoplifting can be a flashpoint for violence against shop workers so whilst this is not a nationwide policy, a decision to implement product security measures at a local level can be made, if a store is experiencing a particular issue."

Pictures have also emerged of shelves at M&S with only three steaks on them, while cheese at an Aldi store was fitted with security tags.

According to police data, certain regions witnessed even more pronounced spikes in shoplifting in March.

Gwent Police -- responsible for overseeing Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen in Wales -- reported the sharpest rise, with instances of shoplifting surging to 961 between January and March, up from 552 in the same period last year.

Meanwhile forces in Northumbria, Staffordshire and Hampshire saw shoplifting rates soar by more than 50 per cent.



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