A convenience store manager in Bristol has said that he is losing around £200 to £300 a week to shoplifting.
Retailer Shafique Awan, who runs St Peter’s Rise Convenience Store in Headley Park, Bristol, has stated the crime has “gone way up”.
“They [shoplifters] come in a group. Two will engage you while the other one’s probably filling up a bag, and then they just dash out. Some weeks it is up to £200 to £300 [stolen],” Awan told BBC, adding that he has stopped reporting thefts to the police as he feels it is “never in the public interest to follow it up”.
“There is certainly is a point where you’re going to say it’s probably not even worth the trouble [of trading]”, he added.
Awan’s comments came amid figures from West of England Combined Auhtority (WECA) which shows that shoplifting in the region has increased by 41 per cent over the last year. To help tackle the problem, it has now launched the Safe Shops West scheme.
The scheme, backed by the Association of Convenience Stores and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) will allow independent businesses to apply for grants of up to £2,000.
The grants can be spent on security measures such as CCTV and body-worn cameras and hand-held radios for staff. To qualify for the funding, the store has to be an independent shop located in the West of England region whichbis getting “significantly affected by shoplifting”, states WECA.
Awan said he hopes the money will help secure his business, as things have become so bad he may have to consider if he wants to carry on.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said they “don’t underestimate the impact of these types of crime”.
“We encourage shop workers to report crime and aim to respond to incidents of shoplifting, prioritising those in which threats are made, acts of violence are reported or a suspect has been detained,” the spokesperson added.
Business owners have also been encouraged to upload CCTV of incidents through the force’s website.
“Our neighbourhood teams are committed to working with individual businesses and business groups to support them and have successfully used anti-social behaviour legislation to ban persistent thieves from certain areas,” the police spokesperson added.
Weca Mayor Dan Norris said, “The fightback starts now. It’s law-abiding citizens that suffer from the shoplifting epidemic. Shops put up prices to make up for the lost goods – making the cost-of-living crisis even worse.”