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HomeWorld NewsUK Stores Experience Increase in Shoplifters as Grab-and-Go Trend Surges

UK Stores Experience Increase in Shoplifters as Grab-and-Go Trend Surges

Shoplifters are increasingly being organized by criminal groups and are stealing items to fulfill specific orders, leading to the growth of a black market in various goods. Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association, noted that while shop theft was previously carried out by individuals struggling with addiction, there is now a more organized and professional approach to these crimes. County lines gangs are believed to be attracted to shoplifting, with criminals traveling to different areas to commit thefts. The prevalence of a black market in commonly stolen items such as cheese and meat has forced retailers to tag these items, but it hasn’t prevented theft. The British Retail Consortium reported a 26% increase in shoplifting across major UK cities in July. There are indications that the UK has imported the trend of mass “grab-and-go” shoplifting from the United States, and TikTok videos are even encouraging theft and offering tips. Retailers in the UK face a “vicious cycle” where reporting shoplifting often leads to little action or minimal consequences, which discourages them from reporting future incidents. The crime and policing minister has urged police forces to investigate every shoplifting incident where the stolen goods value is less than £200. However, some shoplifters ensure they stay under this threshold to receive only a fine in the mail. Independent retailers are more likely to challenge shoplifters due to the significant impact of theft on their business. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, as it costs retailers millions of pounds each year, which ultimately gets passed on to customers through higher prices. Rising levels of violence against retail staff, including threats and assaults with weapons, are another concern. The British Retail Consortium is advocating for a new offense of assault against a key worker and calling for a plan to address organized shoplifting gangs. Following the challenge from the crime and policing minister, police forces have committed to pursuing leads in shoplifting cases. The government aims to deliver victim-focused, common-sense policing to combat all crimes, regardless of their scale.

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