Retailers have criticised the police responses to shoplifting as “terrible”.
A retailer in West Sussex told Convenience Store that his expectations for the police fell short when he encountered an incident recently.
Mohammed Robbani, a supervisor of a Premier store in Durrington-by-sea, confronted a girl who was caught stealing a bottle of Smirnoff Ice.
Mohammed said: “One girl took a bottle of Smirnoff Ice and we caught her, but she was saying she was going to smash the bottle on me. So, I called the police but they just sent me a crime number and they wouldn’t come out. It’s ridiculous.”
In response to shoplifting incidents, Mohammed announced that anyone caught shoplifting would be banned from the store. However, sales have been impacted because some customers who are now banned used to make purchases alongside the theft.
When questioned about the incident by Convenience Store, a Sussex Police spokesperson said: “We take each report seriously, irrespective of the value. We have had a number of recent arrests, charges and convictions – including some prolific shoplifters – and this is largely thanks to the work of our officers, working in conjunction with partners and the community.
“Sussex Police has a dedicated Business Crime Team supporting business reporting, collating evidence for prosecution and applying for civil orders. The force works closely with businesses and local authorities as part of the Business Crime Reduction Partnerships across Sussex and also with the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner to respond to shoplifting and business crime.
“We recognise the impact shoplifting has on shop workers, business owners and the local community, and we would encourage them to continue to report incidents to us so we can gather intelligence to prevent, detect and respond to crime. Due to technological advances, we are able to commence an investigation without physical attendance in some circumstances. While the perception may be that we don’t attend incidents of shoplifting, this way of working enables us to address concerns more efficiently and effectively.”
One the other side of the country, a retailer in Scotland told Convenience Store that he has not been impressed by the response he has received from his police force.
Anand Cheema, owner of Fresh in Costcutter in Falkirk, faced disappointment when he reported an incident last year, involving a theft of five kegs stolen from his storeroom worth up to £600.
“I provided all the evidence including registration plates of vehicles and facial recognition. This was over a year down the line and then a few weeks ago they asked for the CCTV footage again and nothing’s been done.”
Last week the retailer fell victim to another shoplifting incident and in response he exposed the suspected shoplifter on Facebook through CCTV footage.
The post on the retailers Facebook page engaged a response from the local community, leading them to gather the needed information on the suspected thief.
Anand explained that he promptly called 101 and was put through to a response person who took down notes and told him that an officer would be in touch.
“I had a call with an officer and they literally repeated the questions I was asked before. So, the same information was given and again they said an officer will be in touch to take the CCTV footage off me. God knows when that will be and whether I’ll even get my money back. The police response has been painful.”
Detective Superintendent Andrew Patrick, Police Scotland lead for acquisitive crime said: “We work closely with partners in the retail and business sectors to deter, prevent and investigate shoplifting. Where we identify business which are being targeted by shoplifters, we have trained officers who can attend and carry out security surveys and offer advice around prevention. I would encourage businesses to invest in crime reduction measures and education to help reduce shoplifting.”
An annual crime report by the Association of Convenience Stores revealed that there have been almost 9,000 incidents of robbery at convenience stores between 2022 and 2023.