Meat and cheeses tagged in stores as shoplifting rises fuelled by the cost of living crisis
The worst high streets and shopping precincts for shoplifting can now be revealed in a new interactive map. Hyperlocal crime data shows that more shoplifters targeted central Birmingham than anywhere else in the city last year, with almost 1,000 offences.
Central Birmingham was rocked by 959 recorded crimes – a startling 73 per cent increase on the previous year. That was also the sixth most shoplifting offences of any neighbourhood in England and Wales.
In Birmingham, Central was followed by North Central & Dartmouth Circus, where there were 507 shoplifting crimes, and then Selly Oak with 336. But those areas are all main shopping zones that attract the most visitors each day, bringing with it higher numbers of opportunistic thieves.
A comparison of the number of stores in each neighbourhood and the rate of theft per ten shops revealed Hodge Hill suffers most from shoplifting. The area was struck by 187 crimes last year.
Given the number of shops, that is the equivalent of about 74.8 shoplifting offences for every 10 shops, the highest rate in Birmingham – and 11th highest in England and Wales. Selly Oak had 61.1 crimes per 10 shops, and then Northfield Victoria Common was hit by 37.6 crimes per 10 shops.
Meanwhile, the high number of shops in Birmingham Central spreads out to a rate of 30.9 crimes per 10 shops, far less than in Hodge Hill. Only neighbourhoods with at least around 25 shops – as listed in government data – have been included in the rankings.
The figures come as ministers draw up plans for mandatory jail sentences for shoplifters. Under the proposals, judges would be required to impose jail terms when sentencing repeat offenders for shoplifting – as well as for burglary, theft, and common assault – using new legislation to be included in the crime and justice bill.
Nationally, shoplifting has soared by 22 per cent from last year’s stats, with the number of offences rising from 256,000 to 314,000, according to separate Home Office figures. Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira (British Independent Retailers Association) said: “There has been an increase in the levels of shop theft over the past 12 months.
“Some of this is driven by the cost of living crisis and we have seen large stores take to tagging items such as meat and cheeses. There is also evidence that the majority of shop theft is committed by repeat offenders, together with a rise in organised raids on shops.
“Independent retail businesses have seen an increase in the number of theft incidents which is frustrating as theft is a 100% loss to the retailer. There are further concerns that a high number of incidents are not reported to the police due to historical low response rates.
“We need to see the relevant authorities use all their powers to deal with the situation, with a focus on anti-social behaviours and the use of the Community Trigger and Community Remedy powers.”
Loss prevention measures, such as security CCTV, Retail Security EAS Tagging, Security Guards, amongst other measures has helped fight retail crime, often moving the problem to a less secure store.