Home NEWS Co-op store resorts to putting empty items on shelves to combat shoplifting

Co-op store resorts to putting empty items on shelves to combat shoplifting

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A supermarket plagued by shoplifters has resorted to putting empty ‘display packs’ on the shelves to prevent constant thefts.

The Bristol store is targeted several times a day – often by the same offenders disguising themselves to avoid detection, according to staff.

Now the Redcliffe Co-op is displaying empty coffee jars and detergent packs, with customers having to request full items from workers.

Bosses have also restricted the number of meats and cheese on the shelves, with only one steak and two packs of premium bacon and Cathedral City allowed at a time.

Cunning employees are also cutting the bottom out of confectionery boxes so that anyone who attempts to take the whole box will see the items tumble to the floor.

One staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, explained: ‘Most customers are oblivious to it.

‘Affluent office workers come in for their lunch each day, and they don’t have a clue what goes on.’

The store is currently only displaying empty coffee jars, ranging from £2.27 Co-op own brand ‘rich roast’ to an £8.48 premium option. In the detergent aisle, 12 empty display packs fill the shelves.

If customers wish to buy the items they must ask a member of staff to fetch a full one from the stock room.

The staff member added: ‘We only put out one steak and two Irresistible bacon packs at any one time’

‘You’re not going to be picking up the whole box unless you’ve really got the munchies or you’re nicking it.

‘People nick these things because they can sell them on easily for a decent value.’

Explaining the tactic of cutting holes in the bottom of containers of sweets, the employee said: ‘We had a lady in yesterday who picked up a whole box of Munchies. They all fell through the hole and we heard them hit the floor.

‘I confronted her and I was able to get the sweets back.’

Shoplifters have even taken to changing their appearance so they are not recognised, the staff member revealed.

They said: ‘We know the usual suspects. Recently a woman came in whom I had asked to leave a couple of months prior.

‘This time she had a wig on and she came in when it was busy, but I still recognised her. I shouted: “Oi – get out.”

‘You develop a bit of a sixth sense for these people.’

The worker says that company policy often prevents them from tackling shoplifters, and the police are too busy to attend reports of shoplifting.

He added: ‘Police do not investigate most of the thefts because they are low value.

‘We understand that, but if you think about why these people are doing it, they will do a resale to fund a quick hit of whatever drug they are using.

‘Think of all the addiction issues we are facing in this city. This is where it starts.’

An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said: ‘When there is an incident of a shop theft where an offender has been detained by a retailer we will always make every effort to attend if resources are available.’

He added the force is ‘unfortunately working in a climate of funding cuts and therefore a reduction in workforce in terms of police officers and police staff’.

The spokesman continued: ‘Prioritisation of crimes means we have to make tough decisions about getting the right resource with the right skills to all requests for our services which require a response.’

A spokesman for Southern Co-op said the company had experienced an increase in retail crime and that the company considers a range of security measures to reduce risk.

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