Plastic and reusable carrier bags are now the fourth most frequently stolen item, as shoplifters cost retailers a massive £800m per year.

According to Yorkshire-based national security company, the introduction of the 5p charge in England and Wales for disposable plastic carrier bags last year has contributed to the shoplifting figures. spoke to over 100 UK retailers from major chains down to c-stores over the course of the study.

Spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe said: “The introduction of the 5p charge in England and Wales for disposable bags has seemingly turned the country into a nation of petty criminals, with one recent survey claiming that over 500 million single-use bags have been stolen since October. It’s got to the point that even plastic ‘bags for life’ are being fitted with anti-theft security tags.”

The most frequently shoplifted category of 2015 was alcohol. “Alcohol theft has plagued supermarkets for years, with many stores increasing their security for high-value products such as whiskies and other spirits. But it still appears difficult to stop every incident, and losses caused by boozy customers and staff still top the list,” he said.

“You’ll notice that the most stolen items are those that are easily concealed and that’s a major problem for smaller stores, because not everything can be covered with security tags without making nonsense of the whole shopping experience.”

“It’s not just the customers who are robbing the shops blind, staff are responsible for another £770m worth of thefts, making them almost as bad as the crooks they’re supposed to be stopping,” he added.

The top ten most shoplifted products are:

1. Alcohol

2. Perfume

3. Razor blades

4. Bags – both plastic and reusable

5. Coffee

6. Meat and cheeses

7. Electrical goods

8. Phones

9. Clothing

10. Sporting goods