Gone in 60 seconds: Stores targeted by thieves nearly ‘once every minute’ as shoplifting hits record high

25 April 2024, 09:42 | Updated: 26 April 2024, 01:02

Shoplifting rates have hit an all-time high in England and Wales.
Shoplifting rates have hit an all-time high in England and Wales. Picture: X

By Asher McShane

Shoplifting in England and Wales has hit the highest level in over 20 years with one theft occurring nearly every minute.

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Shoplifting offences increased by 37% (to 430,104 offences) compared with the year ending December 2022 (315,040 offences).

This works out as roughly 1,000 shops being targeted by thieves everyday - or nearly one shop every minute.

It is the highest figure since current police recording practices began for the year ending March 2003.

This is up 37% from 315,040 in the previous 12 months. The number of offences involving theft from the person stood at 125,563 in 2023, up 18% from 106,606 in 2022, and is the highest level since 2004 (137,154).

Cliff Lee, Director of Wellbeing Services at the Retail Trust charity, told LBC News: "The confidence in colleagues to report crimes is still a huge issue. While the numbers are quite eye-watering at 430,000 instances, I'm sure that is just the tip of the iceberg with so many instances of crime going unreported....with only about 25% of colleagues actually reporting instances."

Earlier this week LBC discovered Shocking footage showing Boots and Greggs stores being targeted by brazen thieves in London over the weekend amid a surge in shoplifting across the country.

One video posted online shows two men filling duffle bags with products from Boots on Chingford High Street, east London, on Sunday afternoon.

Worried staff members simply watch on as the two men line the shelves, as one woman is seemingly on the phone to the police.

The footage was posted online just a day after a man was seen brazenly filling his arms with food and drink from a Greggs store in Archway, north London.

It comes amid a surge in the number of shoplifting offences in the UK.

More than 402,000 offences were recorded in the year to September 2023, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

Read More: Labour will tackle shoplifting amid 'record levels' with better protection for workers, shadow minister says

Read More: Tesco store refuses to let customers enter until they have been seen on CCTV amid surge in shoplifting

This was a significant increase from the 304,459 recorded in the previous 12 months and the first time since records began in 2002 that the figure rose above 400,000.

As a result, supermarkets and shops across the UK have adopted extreme measures in a bid to reduce their stores from being targeted.

One Tesco store in Bristol has recently stopped letting customers into the shop until their face has been scanned by CCTV.

Meanwhile, other supermarkets, including Sainsbury's, have stopped customers leaving until they have scanned their receipts.

Earlier this month, Rishi Sunak launched a fresh crackdown on serial shoplifters, with the Government making assaulting a shopworker a separate criminal offence.

Ministers had previously ruled out creating a separate criminal offence, insisting it was not "required".

But the Government has now changed its position, with the prime minister announcing that the Criminal Justice Bill would be amended to bring in the new offence.

"I am sending a message to those criminals - whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders or opportunistic thieves - who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses or abusing shopworkers, enough is enough," Mr Sunak said.

"Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse."

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