What supermarkets are doing to stop thieves


HomeHome / News / What supermarkets are doing to stop thieves

Jan 21, 2024

What supermarkets are doing to stop thieves

The added pressures of inflation-linked food price rises, alongside high energy

The added pressures of inflation-linked food price rises, alongside high energy costs and increasing mortgages and rents have forced many to turn to shoplifting to try and get by

The number of cases of stealing being reported has jumped 22% in the year to September amid the cost of living crisis - and supermarkets are being forced to react to higher numbers of thieves.

Food costs have remained high with recent food inflation figures sitting at 19.1% - this means prices are 19.1% higher than they were last year.

The added pressure of these price rises, alongside high energy costs and increasing mortgages and rents has forced many into these positions.

In response to the higher rates of crime, supermarkets have started to introduce measures in some of their stores to try and prevent shoplifting.

From limiting products on shelves to scanning receipts to leave, The Mirror has compiled a list of the tactics supermarket chains are using to try and stamp out stealing.

Some supermarket chains are limiting the number of items on their shelves to prevent shoplifters from "swooping and running".

One example of this was seen in M&S, however many other stores have been reported to implement this.

Last week, one M&S store in Harrow only displayed three cuts of steak on its shelf.

When a customer asked about the low number, they were then informed by staff that it was in place to stop thieves.

Other social media users confirmed that this measure was in place in their local M&S however the supermarket chain confined to the Mirror that it was not a widespread policy.

The M&S spokesperson told the Mirror that customers can always be able to buy the products they want in M&S stores.

This measure is not a new one with chains putting security tags across some of their more expensive items for years such as steaks and alcoholic beverages.

However, over the last year, more products have had security tags added to them.

Some products which now display security tags include blocks of cheese, lamb chops, baby milk cartons, jars of coffee, butter, bacon, beef mince, whole chickens, and tubs of formula.

supermarkets have previously rejected the claims that the security tags were in response to the rising cost of living and say that security tags have been issued in some stores but not others for years.

Recently, Sainsbury's came under fire as some of its stores introduced a new rule where shoppers needed to scan their receipt in order to leave.

The new rule was reported to be seen in Sainsbury's stores in Balham south London, Redhill in Surrey, Colne in Lancashire, and Winnersh in Berkshire.

According to Manchester Metropolitan University news publication Northern Quota, 25 Sainsbury's stores across Greater Manchester have these barriers installed.

Sainbury's have told the Mirror that the move was "not a new security measure and features in a small number of our stores at the self-service checkout areas."

Has your local supermarket implemented more security measures? Email us: [email protected]

Some supermarket chains have started to display empty products on their shelves to stop people slipping things into their bags.

Co-Op recently made headlines as empty jars of coffee were being displayed in their stores and shoppers needed to ask staff to get the product they wanted to buy something.

One social media user claimed their local Co-Op was now a "grocery showroom"

A picture published alongside the tweet showed several empty coffee jars including Kenco, and Nescafe, which has a label on it that said: "This product is a dummy and not for sale. - Please ask a member of staff for help."

Another Twitter user shared that their local Co-Op displayed empty shower gel bottles.

The Co-Op has also confirmed that the police is not a nationwide measure at its stores.

A Co-op spokesperson said: "Protecting the safety of our colleagues is a priority and we know shoplifting can be a flashpoint for violence against shopworkers so whilst this is not a nationwide policy, a decision to implement product security measures at a local level can be made, if a store is experiencing a particular issue".

Aldi has recently come under fire for a new policy it has introduced across some of its stores.

The discount chain has begun to check shoppers' bags and trolleys when approaching the till to make sure all items are placed onto the conveyer belt.

In one Aldi store, there was a message by the till which read: "When proceeding to the cashier, please ensure all products are placed on the till belts, your carrier bags are empty, and your trolley is clear.

"Thank you for your cooperation."

One Aldi shopper claimed that both her shopping bags and her handbag was checked when she was in her local Aldi store.

A spokesperson from Aldi told The Mirror earlier this year that bag checks are "not a national policy" but "where necessary, checks are sometimes introduced at individual stores as a short-term measure".

One Nisa store in Poplar London has managed to cut its shoplifting losses from £1,000 a week to less than £100 by enhancing its security cameras with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Introduced in 2021, the AI-based system, produced by the French firm Veesion, checks customers for suspicious behaviour, films them and alerts staff through an app within 20 seconds.

The system picks up when shoplifters put products inside their jacket or trousers; when products are placed in a buggy; when suspiciously large numbers of a single product are taken from shelves; when someone opens a packet and eats something in the store; and when a shoplifter places products in their own bag rather than a basket or trolley.

Once shoplifting has been established by the system, it is able to download an image of the shoplifter so that if they enter the store again, staff can be alerted.

The store manager Sivakumar Pandian said shoplifting had been an issue at the store for several years but things have improved significantly since the introduction of the software.

Get our money-saving tips and top offers direct to your inbox with the Mirror Money newsletter