Shop owners call for police ‘most wanted’ lists to be available to stop prolific thieves
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Calls for ‘most wanted’ police lists to be available to convenience shop owners has been issued in a bid to tackle prolific thieves from repeat offending. The Association of Convenience Stores, which presents 48,000 local shops, is calling for the information to be available after new figures show that theft is on the rise.
Figures from the annual Crime Report, published today (June 22), show that their theft index has reached new record levels which estimates that there were over 1.1m incidents of theft reported last year.
The most commonly stolen items reported by retailers were meat, alcohol and confectionery which have been described as “high value items” that can then be sold on by those with a alcohol or drug addiction, or part of wider organised crime groups.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The levels of theft that retailers are experiencing on a daily basis are unprecedented. Repeat offenders, known to the community and known to the police, are stealing without fear of reproach.
“The cost of living crisis has increased the level of theft but this isn’t driven by people falling on hard times turning to crime, it’s organised criminal gangs and addicts stealing to fund their drug or alcohol problems. This cannot be allowed to continue.
“Official crime figures barely scratch the surface of the problems that retailers are facing. The Government, Police and Crime Commissioners, and local forces need to take urgent action to stop this national crimewave in its tracks and send a clear message that repeat offenders will be dealt with properly.”
Tenby retailer Fiona Malone said: “Many of the people stealing from my shop are known to the community and the police. We need to do a better job at tackling these offenders and bringing them to justice. Unfortunately, shop thieves know that the police rarely take notice of anything stolen under £50 in value.”
ACS has called on police forces and the Government to do more to take retail crime seriously and support local businesses. The five-point plan includes introducing a ‘Most Wanted’ list of shop thieves in each police force area, where prolific offenders can be banned from retail areas or referred to rehabilitation programmes, reviewing the impact of new legislation that makes attacking a public facing worker (including shop staff) an aggravated offence and invest in rehabilitation programmes for offenders to break the cycle of offending and ineffective punishment.
The report also showed how more than half (63%) of shop theft is committed by repeat offenders, meanwhile retailers estimate that just 16% of crimes against their business are reported to the police.
ACS has launched the Crime Report in Parliament today (June 22) highlighting the impact of theft, abuse and violent crime on convenience retailers in every constituency across the UK.