The number of thefts reported by shops has more than doubled in the last two years with retailers reporting nearly 900 thefts last month compared to less than 400 during the same period in 2020.
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation, which represents 5,000 convenience stores, surveyed around 500 stores and found every one had suffered shoplifting on a daily basis.
Dr John Lee, head of policy and public affairs, said: “Shoplifting happens every day in every shop. It is definitely on the rise and it’s undoubtedly connected to the cost of living crisis. I could see us getting to the stage where milk is tagged.
“I have heard of shops being forced to put security tags and boxes on items such as meat and even margarine. It is also becoming more extreme and violent and it seems that people are more ready to resort to violence when they are confronted by shop staff.”
Stores have reported shoplifters stealing baby food and formula, suggesting a black market for relatively cheap but essential products as the cost of living climbs.
Last week Andy Cooke, chief inspector of constabulary for England and Wales, urged police officers to use discretion when deciding whether to prosecute people who were caught stealing in order to eat.
Retailers Against Crime, which is an anti-crime initiative that represents shop owners and shares information on shoplifters and abuse against shop staff, said relatively cheap items are now being stolen along with the traditionally small but relatively expensive items like razors and ink cartridges.
Stephanie Karté, of Retailers Against Crime, said shoplifters seem more desperate and violent when confronted by shopkeepers or security staff. She said: “Violence and shoplifting is increasing. There is a feeling that the economic climate we are in is fuelling violent crime especially. They are going for things like baby food and baby milk. Baby milk was a big thing for shoplifters for two or three months recently.
“It seems linked to the cost of living, with people having a harder time. It’s the way of the world now but it is really worrying.
“There is no stereotypical shoplifter. They could be children, male, female and anywhere from 15 to 50 years old.
“There are little or no consequences for those who persistently commit crime so they continue to target stores on a daily basis.”
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