Police does not investigate shoplifting offences unless there is clear CCTV footage or the stolen goods are worth more than £200, a convenience store owner has said.
The owner of the Welcome store next to Southampton train station has stated that authorities are not doing enough to protect shops like his from confrontational and aggressive shoplifters who largely go unpunished.
Richard Inglis who owns three Co-op franchise shops his stores are facing regular cases of petty thefts as well as stealing in bulk. According to a ITV report, cameras in his stores are filled with footages of blatant theft as well as violent and aggressive behaviour when offenders are challenged.
“On a bad day we can have up to eight incidents a day across our three stores. Occasionally we get a day where we get a break but to give you an idea in the month of July we have had 80 recorded incidents. That’s incidents that my guys have noticed. We probably only pick up on a third of what gets taken from the store so that gives you an idea of the scale of what we are dealing with,” Inglis told ITV.
The retailer pointed out insufficient police action on these cases too, saying very few of the offenders are brought to book.
“We have to show clear entry and exit. We have to show a full face shot and we have to have a value over a certain amount for it to be considered. So we can go to all that effort and it can be NFA – no further action.
“The more the police don’t investigate these crimes the worse it’s becoming. It’s left staff feeling vulnerable. They like to think they can pick the phone up and call the police but the reality is that that’s not necessarily the case. It can make them fear coming to work.
“Psychologically it’s not great,” said the retailer.
“We are seeing repeat offenders that come into our stores who are jailed for a week or two and as soon as they are back on the streets are doing the same thing again.
Southampton Chief Inspector Chris Douglas said: “Shoplifting and other crime associated with it is an issue that we are constantly working to tackle across Southampton – we work hard to identify those responsible in partnership with local businesses by ensuring that we capture the best evidence efficiently, which includes CCTV opportunities.
“Each report of shoplifting that we receive is assessed at the time the report is made and all lines of enquiry available to us are then pursued,” the report quoted Douglas as saying.
He added that each report is “dealt with and assessed on a case by case basis in line with our crime recording guidelines, and we do not make decisions based on the value of items stolen, although this does form a part of our risk assessment”.
It comes amid similar accusations raised in a recent Co-op report which highlights the rampant retail crime in the country.
According to new data released last week, Co-op recorded highest ever levels of retail crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour with almost 1,000 incidents each day in the six months to June 2023- a 35 per cent YOY increase.
“Criminals have ‘freedom to loot’ with rampant levels of out-of-control crime predominantly committed by repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addictions and, local organised criminal gangs, among the main drivers of offending,” stated the Co-op report, calling on police force to target prolific offenders and local organised criminal gangs.