Need not Greed
Evidence is growing of shoplifting for ‘need over greed’ as first-time store thieves are “stealing to eat” as a result of the increasing cost of living crisis, according to leading supermarkets.
Such stores are used to seeing high-end products including razor blades, alcohol and perfumes that are often the targets of both opportunistic and organised store thieves, but now stores are being hit by big rises in the theft of “daily essential and low-value items” — and suggesting that levels “are off the charts”.
Essentials such as bread, pasta and tinned foods are now being concealed and stolen as evidence of the inflationary-driven cost of living crisis grows.
To help tackle the issue, some shops have even re-introduced the one-way entry and exit points they set up during the pandemic.
Others have increased security with more staff and extra CCTV cameras and introduced wheel-locking trolley technology.
One store boss told trade magazine The Grocer: “With the cost of living, people are having to start making choices.”
Food poverty expert and Ulster University lecturer Dr Sinéad Furey said: “The return of ‘stealing to eat’ instead of being able to afford to eat is proof we need policy solutions so resorting to crime does not become a mainstream means of securing basic essentials.”
Research by the Food Foundation showed that in April 7.3 million UK adults skipped meals, reduced meal size or went without food for a day to make their money go further.
Those arrested for shoplifting are likely to be stuck in a long queue as a result of the pandemic closing down courts, creating a massive backlog of low-level offending at magistrates level.
Clive Black, of analysts Shore Capital, said that with police and courts unable to cope, the “temptation to shoplift is likely to grow for some.”