Can you Adam and Eve it? The middle-class shoplift for fun? What? They’ve given up the fun and frolics of Verbier and Saint Moritz? When was shoplifting ever fun? And when did it become a sport? It’s one thing if you are poor and in need and you walk out of a shop with a loaf of bread without paying for it because your children were hungry and you were penniless (not that I am advocating stealing as the alternative, mind you). But it’s quite another when you are rich and see stealing as just another form of sport.
Well, it’s certainly not fun for the shops that lose millions of pounds each year due to shoplifting. Thefts are up by 24 per cent year on year and a recent study found that 54.4 per cent of shoplifting involved supermarkets including the Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and even Aldi, with the cost to stores approaching £1billion a year. That’s a hallucinating amount of money! And £12 million of those losses is recorded by the John Lewis group, which includes the supermarket Waitrose, which prides itself as the ‘rich people’ supermarket.
Men, respectable middle-class men, apparently go for alcohol and expensive cuts of meat. I suppose if you gonna go thieving, you might as well do it in style, innit? Unpaid items have even been found in baby buggies. And that’s not all. Should shop staff be brave enough to confront the thieves they are likely to get battered. Charlene Corbin, a team leader at one of the Co-op stores, was bottled in the head by a shoplifter when she tried to stop them from leaving with goods they had not paid for.
And what’s the police doing about it? Not a lot. They have been accused of failing to respond to violent attacks on retail staff largely because by the time they get to the scene of the crime (if they bother to show up at all), the culprits have already done a runner. Furthermore, the police say they won’t attend a shop theft if the stolen items are under £200, thereby unwittingly creating a ‘shoplifters’ charter’.
Lack of police interest and intervention leaves supermarkets and stores to ‘police’ themselves. This includes retailers having to spend tens of millions of pounds on their own security measures, including hiring private companies to bring prosecutions.
Shoplifting is no joke. In the end, we will all pay for it, through higher prices at the till.
Image (c) Morning Calm Weekly Newspaper on Flickr, under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED