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    Shoplifters top reoffenders list 

    Photo: iStock

    More than 80 per cent of jailed shoplifters reoffend within a year of leaving prison, stated a recent report citing figures from Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

    According to the latest data by MoJ, 82 per cent of shoplifters freed from prison were caught reoffending within 12 months, the highest of any type of crime.

    An in-depth analysis of thefts by the MoJ revealed that of the 66,876 people found guilty of shoplifting in the last five years, while 39,631, or 59.3 per cent, were subsequently convicted of exactly the same offence, The Telegraph reported, adding that the conviction for offences other than shoplifting explains the different figures.

    The data also shows that shoplifters are the most prolific offenders. Their reoffending rates are nearly seven times those for sex offenders at 12 per cent, and nearly double those for burglary, which was the next highest at 46 per cent. Robbery was 22 per cent, violence against the person 25 per cent and fraud 22 per cent.

    The disclosure comes as Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, is piloting legislation that would replace jail sentences of up to a year with suspended sentences. MoJ research suggested the reoffending rate halves, from 55.5 per cent to 24.2 per cent, when sentences are suspended.

    Earlier last month, former head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Sir Max Hill stated that government should consider dealing with acquisitive crime such as shoplifting outside the court system through schemes designed to tackle the causes of the criminality to help tackle court backlogs and overcrowded prisons.

    “We should be looking again at whether it is necessary to take every case into court. I don’t mean offences of violence. I certainly don’t mean sexual crimes but some acquisitive crimes. Shoplifting, for example,” the former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) told a BBC Today debate on criminal justice.

    Meanwhile, latest industry figures from various trade bodies present a shocking picture of the extent of retail crime in the UK.

    A report released today (19) by British Independent Retail Association (BIRA) revealed a concerning increase in theft, with items ranging from everyday essentials to high-value goods being stolen from shops. Notably, the number of higher-value items stolen (£200-£499) has skyrocketed from 7.35 per cent to 25 per cent in 2024, indicating a significant shift in the modus operandi of thieves.

    Of those surveyed, 96 per cent expressed that retail theft had worsened over the past 12 months, mirroring the sentiment of 92 per cent in 2023. Some shopkeepers conveyed their skepticism towards the effectiveness of the ‘101’ number, citing it as “too much trouble” to report every incident, while many deemed reporting as “pointless”.

    In response to these escalating crime rates, shopkeepers are increasingly investing heavily in expensive CCTV equipment or adjusting their stock to deter thieves.

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