Shoplifting and fuel theft from garage forecourts are on the rise as the cost-of-living crisis pushes people to resort to desperate measures, north-east police have warned.
In the run-up to Christmas, retailers are preparing for their busiest time of year but traders are being told to watch out for thieves who threaten their profits.
A new retail crime reduction initiative has been launched at the Co-op store on Union Street in Aberdeen in response to those concerns.
Advice and guidance are being promoted in a special guide being handed out to north-east businesses, to help prevent them from becoming victims of crime.
The guide, which is designed to help shop staff spot some of the methods used by shoplifters, also includes guidance on how to safely deal with confrontation.
Inspector Claire Smith said: “Our officers will be visiting staff across the north-east between now and Christmas.
“They’ll be offering advice on how to tackle retail crime, recognise the methods used by shoplifters, along with advice on how to deal with confrontation.”
The guides, which will be delivered to shops by police officers, also detail a list of support agencies and foodbanks in the north-east.
“We recognise that the cost of living crisis is hitting families hard across Scotland and the north-east and that some people may consider resorting to shoplifting,” she said.
“For those who feel they are struggling, there is a range of assistance and support available included as part of our campaign.”
“The resource also details a list of support agencies and foodbanks in the north-east.”
‘Pursuing the criminals’
In support of the initiative, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) plans to deliver an online retail crime prevention session, open to all north-east retailers, on Wednesday November 16.
Sergeant Keith Jack, from the SBRC, said: “Police Scotland is committed to tackling retail crime across Scotland.
“Whilst pursuing the criminals who commit shoplifting, supporting retailers and the victims of crime is a priority.
“The importance of preventing shoplifting from occurring in the first instance cannot be overstated.
“The North East Retail Crime Initiative aims to proactively engage with our retailers, delivering critical prevention messaging and safety advice.”
A recent conference hosted by the organisation Retailers Against Crime (RAC) heard there have been 22,918 shoplifting incidents in the last 12 months across Scotland.
RAC said 8,000 incidents were reported to it, an 11.8% increase on the previous year.
Stolen goods for sale
Maxine Fraser, the managing director of RAC, said: “I’ve heard many people say that the cost-of-living crisis is going to cause more people to steal.
“That’s a lot of rubbish. Honest people are not going to turn to crime.
“What’ll happen is, the people who have got less spare money may buy shoplifted goods from markets, unaware that they’ve been stolen.
“The market for stolen property increases so therefore the individuals who normally steal in the first place are stealing more because there’s more demand for the product.”
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