getty shoplifting2

A piece in The Telegraph last weekend got me thinking about how you were all dealing with shoplifting.

The story on the newspaper’s website was about M&S putting just one or two steaks on its shelves at a time, in certain stores, in certain areas. The retailer said if it filled the shelves, shoplifters would come in and clear them.

Of course, this was blamed on the cost-of-living crisis and I, rather naively, thought well these shoplifters have got expensive tastes but it wasn’t that at all. Apparently many thieves are after items they can easily sell on.

Through years of writing for Forecourt Trader and its sister title Convenience Store, I am aware of the tricks that some shoplifters employ to steal stuff. A frozen chicken down a man’s trousers always sticks in my mind. And, of course, there is always the use of a baby’s buggy or pushchair as a getaway-with-it vehicle.

An article in The Independent earlier this year had the head of BP convenience stores stating that shoplifting and crime against shopworkers was much more prevalent here than in the nine other countries she looked after. It’s definitely a worrying trend and more worrying is the fact that the authorities don’t seem to care about it.

The other day, in a Tesco Express, I bought a box of Lindt Lindor chocolates as a small ‘thank-you’ gift for someone. They cost £9.50. I did not realise they had an RFID security tag on them. I paid for them ­ – obviously – but when I attempted to leave the store, the tag set off the alarm. I waited for someone to rush over and stop me but no-one came. I removed the tag and went home. But all I could think was, what if I had not paid for them? Is it as easy as that?

Well, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC’s) latest Crime Survey, it must be quite easy – if you know what you’re doing. The Survey found that the total cost of retail crime was £1.76bn in 2021/22 with £953m of that down to customer theft, with eight million incidents over the year. Wow!

And, of course, for forecourt stores, there’s the double whammy of drive-offs too with the authorities not caring much about those either.

Just the thought of stealing something brings me out in a sweat. I am the sort of person who uses those handheld zappers in supermarkets and then is afraid I have missed something and will get arrested on the way out. And, when I see screenshots of offenders taken from CCTV cameras pinned up in some shops, I am fascinated by them but at the same time worry my face might me up there, just for looking suspicious!

I’m sure you are all doing all you can to counter crime in your stores but when writing this, I came across the ACS’s Crime Guidance leaflet. It might be a case of teaching your grandmother to suck eggs for a lot of you but there might be some useful in it stuff too.