Shoplifting has become an “epidemic” in the past year, the boss of John Lewis, Dame Sharon White, has told the BBC.
She told the Today programme the retailer had seen offences double over the past 12 months. Dame Sharon said it was also “not right” that shop workers were “having to put up with abuse and attacks”.
A group of retailers, including John Lewis, have agreed to fund a police operation to crack down on shoplifting, called “Project Pegasus”.
Ten retailers will spend about £600,000 on the project, which will use CCTV pictures and data provided by the shops to get a better understanding of shoplifters’ operations. Data on shoplifting incidents from various retailers will be collected and looked at by analysts and intelligence officers.
Dame Sharon, chairwoman of the John Lewis Partnership – which also owns Waitrose, said that some areas had become “shells of their former selves” due to violent attacks and repeated offenders “causing havoc” in shops.
Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman from the National Police Chiefs’ Council said that it was “doing everything possible to tackle offenders”.
She added that police forces take any incidents of violence “incredibly seriously, and will prioritise our response where there is a risk to individuals”.
In a separate case, a convenience store owner says he witnesses up to nine shoplifting incidents a day, with criminals who are “more brazen and aggressive”.
Benedict Selvaratnam says it is because shoplifters know they are not a police priority. His situation is being echoed in small shops across the UK, according to the Federation of Independent Retailers. The group, which represents 10,000 shopkeepers, is calling for government help to tackle the problem.
It says the situation is worsening day by day.
So where do we go from here?
We feel the following points can help…
Further Training for Staff: Provide training for store staff on how to handle theft, de-escalate confrontations.
Customer Awareness: Launch campaigns to raise awareness among customers about the consequences of shoplifting.
Police Response: Engage with local police departments to ensure they prioritise shoplifting cases.
Community Policing: Promote community policing strategies that build positive relationships between officers and the communities they serve.
Legislation and Penalties: Advocate for stricter legislation related to shoplifting.
Funding Support: Request financial assistance from the government to fund anti-shoplifting initiatives.
Neighbourhood Watch Programs: Encourage the formation of neighbourhood watch programs in areas with high shoplifting rates.
Technology Solutions: Utilise advanced data analytics to identify patterns and trends in shoplifting incidents.
Government Grants: Small businesses should have access to government grants or subsidies to improve their security systems.
Community Solidarity: Encourage local communities to support their small businesses and report suspicious activity to help protect them.
Tackling the shoplifting “epidemic” requires a unified effort from retailers, Police, government, and the community. By combining these strategies and resources, it is possible to reduce shoplifting, protect retail workers, and improve the overall safety and well-being of communities.
Let us be your partner in safeguarding the well-being of staff.
For more information regarding this post or any of our services, please contact us via 0161 628 9169. We’ll be more than happy to help.