Monday, September 25, 2023

Theft of meat, sweets and alcohol in the UK is the highest it has been in a decade -Dlight News

Britons are turning to crime as the cost of living rises, with meat, alcohol and confectionery stolen from shops last year, according to new data.

According to a report published Thursday by the Association of Convenience Stores, more than 1.1 million incidents of theft were reported in 2022, up from 970,000 a year earlier, reaching its highest level in a decade.

James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, which represents small shops across the UK, said the level of theft taking place every day was “unprecedented”. “Repeat offenders, known to the community and known to the police, steal without fear of stigma,” he added.

More people are committing crimes in response to the worst cost of living crisis for a generation as many households struggle to afford basic daily necessities as prices continue to rise.

The report comes after new data released on Wednesday showed inflation held steady at 8.7 percent in May, worse than the 8.4 percent expected, increasing pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.

An increase in gang activity and people with addiction problems stealing to fund their drug or alcohol habits have led to an increase in crime rates, the report found. High value shop products, such as meat or alcohol, can usually be sold.

Although food price inflation eased from 19 percent in April to 18.3 percent last month, food prices in supermarkets still rose 0.9 percent in May.

Stores in recent months have limited the number of items on their shelves to reduce the risk of theft, as well as adding security tags to food items such as steaks, cheese and butter.

Nearly 80 percent of retailers surveyed by the ACS, which has about 48,000 members, said life crisis costs are leading to theft, with most store staff experiencing verbal abuse in the past year.

Local shops are calling on the police and government to introduce “most wanted” lists of shoplifters in local areas, so that prolific offenders can be identified and banned from stores or referred to rehabilitation programmes.

Fiona Malone, who runs local independent store Tenby Stores in Wales, said: “Many of the people who steal from my shop are known to the community and the police. We need to do a better job of confronting these criminals and bringing them to justice.

“Unfortunately, shoplifters know that the police rarely notice the theft of anything worth less than £50.”

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