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    Undercover guards to patrol Co-op aisles

    Photo: iStock

    Undercover security guards will be patrolling aisles of Co-op soon on the lookout for thieves, as retailers continue to battle a shoplifting epidemic.

    Alongside normal uniformed security guards, the chain on Sunday (10) confirmed it had stepped up the use of “covert” security staff to catch shoplifters in the act, Telegraph reported. The undercover staff, who are supplied by contractor Mitie, are specially trained to confront and hold thieves until police officers get to the scene.

    The move is designed to help curb bulk-shoplifting – described as ‘looting’ in the worst instances.

    Industry reports* show that almost two-thirds (63%) of crime is driven by repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addictions and, local organised criminal gangs, among the main drivers of offending.

    The empty packaging will be used across higher value products on its shelves frequently targeted by criminals for re-sale, in stores where there is a local issue. Products include: coffee; higher-value chocolates, washing powder and laundry gels, with shoppers simply taking the dummy display case to the till where it is exchanged for the actual product. Co-op has previously used the anti-theft packaging in a limited number of stores, and expects it to ‘continue to become a more familiar feature in retailing’.

     Co-op stated in a report that instances of crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in its stores have jumped 35pc higher year-on-year, with more than 175,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of 2023. Yet police forces failed to respond to 71pc of serious retail crimes reported, the supermarket chain said.

    In August, Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, warned it was “unacceptable” that crimes such as shoplifting, criminal damage and phone or car theft were being treated as “less important”.

    It comes amid reports that ten major retailers are pooling in £600,000 in Project Pegasus under which

    , police forces will run each CCTV image of shoplifting offences provided by retailers through the Police National Database, which includes facial recognition technology.

    Described as game-changer by police chiefs, the new partnership will give them a national picture of where shoplifting gangs are operating and the shops they are targeting.

    Read to more here.

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