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Published: 20:50, September 12, 2023
Britain faces 'epidemic' of shoplifting
By Reuters
Published:20:50, September 12, 2023 By Reuters

A customer shops for cheese and dairy products at a Sainsbury's supermarket in Walthamstow, east London on Feb 13, 2022. (PHOTO / AFP)

LONDON - Britain is seeing an "epidemic" of shoplifting, the boss of retailer John Lewis said on Tuesday, as the owner of the Primark fashion chain joined industry calls for the authorities to crack down on the problem, saying its profit margins were suffering.

"It's become an epidemic. Sadly, in the last year we've seen twice as many offences," Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership that owns department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, told BBC Radio.

George Weston, the CEO of Primark-owner Associated British Foods, said the fashion chain had stepped up spending on security guards, CCTV and on equipping staff with body cameras to try to combat in-store theft

On Monday, White called for the UK government to set up a commission to examine the problems faced by town centers, saying they risked becoming "a looting ground for emboldened shoplifters and organized gangs."

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On Tuesday, George Weston, the CEO of Primark-owner Associated British Foods, said the fashion chain had stepped up spending on security guards, CCTV and on equipping staff with body cameras to try to combat in-store theft.

"But we need to emphasize, as others have emphasized, the role of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and magistrates in tackling this problem which is just getting steadily worse," he told Reuters in an interview.

"They are doing more, but it's not enough yet."

Weston said some of the theft was "quite organized" and Primark was also seeing higher levels of anti-social behavior.

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His comments echo those of Tesco CEO Ken Murphy, who earlier this month said Britain's biggest supermarket chain was offering body-cams to staff who need them.


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