// Shoplifting cases surge 16% amid soaring living costs, new figures reveal
// Sainsbury’s and Tesco accounted for 40% of incidents overall
Shoplifting cases have surged 16% in the past three months as shoppers steal essential products amid soaring living costs, new data reveals.
It comes as retailers increase security measures to curb thieves as food inflation reached a 45-year high in October at 16.2%.
According to Freedom of Information requests by The Telegraph, Big 4 grocer’s Sainsbury’s and Tesco accounted for two-fifths (40%) of overall cases.
More than 20 police forces were called to 10,019 shoplifting cases in October, a substantial increase from the 8,602 cases reported in July.
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Moreover, retail artificial intelligence specialist Scanwatch revealed that self-checkouts have been targeted by first-time shoplifters and were used in nine out of ten cases.
Shoplifting cost retailers £663m in 2020 to 2021, British Retail Consortium director of business and regulation Tom Ironside told The Telegraph.
Consumer champion Martyn James said that the scale of the problem could be “much higher” as local supermarkets are “reluctant to report some instances of shoplifting”.
“There is little doubt though that the cost-of-living crisis is driving people to do things they would never have previously considered,” he told the newspaper.
“This increase in theft is not being driven by people seeking a ‘thrill’ or a rise in kleptomaniacs. It’s people struggling to make ends meet – and as bills increase over winter, this may only just be the beginning.”
Market research firm Kantar found the average shopping bill has risen by £380 – with Lidl and Aldi branded the “worst supermarkets” for rising food inflation.
In July, supermarkets across the UK added security tags to basic food items such as blocks of cheese, lamb chops and baby milk to tackle shoplifting.