Costs crisis drives rise in shoplifting

The cost of living crisis has sparked a rise in shoplifting in the Northumbria Police area in the last year, new figures show.

Shoplifting on the increase.
Shoplifting on the increase.

Although thefts remain below pre-pandemic figures, police in the region recorded 3,797 shoplifting offences between April 1 and August 31 a rise of ​16% compared to the 3,274 logged during the same period last year.

The force recorded 5,598 thefts from shops over the same five-month period in 2019.

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The data comes from a Freedom of Information request at a time when surging inflation, rising food prices and soaring energy bills have left many households struggling to pay bills.

Nationally, 109,534 shoplifting offences were reported to the 38 police forces which responded to the FOI request – up 22% on last year, but a drop of 17.9% compared to 2019.

In the North East, 325 (8.6%) shoplifting crimes resulted in a charge or summons.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents retailers, said shoplifting remains a "significant" burden, costing firms £663m in 2020-21.

Tom Ironside, BRC director of business and regulation, said police-recorded crimes do not represent the whole picture as some shops do not report incidents.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said shoplifting is the "single biggest threat" to shop worker safety, as well as being a daily problem for retailers.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Betts, NPPC lead for business crime, said: "We are conscious of concerns from business about the potential for increased shoplifting due to the cost-of-living crisis and recognise the important role that policing plays in tackling offenders and supporting retailers in reducing the number of offences committed.”