Incidents, where gangs of up to 15 'swarm' a store, have so far taken place in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and the West Midlands.
Police in Preston reported a gang dancing and clapping in order to distract assistants at stores in Plungington and New Hall Lane. Elsewhere, a substantial sum was stolen from the residential area of a Costcutter in Coventry while 15 people swarmed the store.
One of the latest incidents involved a group of seven men, described as East European, at Amrat Kanji's Costcutter store in Little Lever, near Bolton. Amrat told C-Store he had to struggle away from a 'bear hug' after challenging the men. The gang fled, throwing tins of baked beans as they escaped.
Amrat said: "Initially, two men were waiting outside and after they came in others followed until there were about seven people in the store. They gave themselves away by asking silly questions such as what size nappy they should be buying for their baby. I had to act quickly. I'm just glad my staff and myself are okay and that they didn't get away with anything."
Don't get distracted
Keep private areas secure at all times. The use of digital locks and swipe card entry is strongly recommended
Participate in partnership initiatives such as photographic exchange of known offenders
Train staff to identify distraction tactics
Consider Raid Control
Look at your store layout. How easy is it to steal? Are there any blind spots?
Use preventative mechanisms such as CCTV, mirrors and tagging of expensive items
Identify 'hot products' and keep them more secure
If any offender produces a weapon or threatens violence -stand back and do what they say
Contact police immediately and give a full description.
Source: Lancashire Police