Organised criminals are behind an epidemic of shoplifting which is seeing stolen food and drink being re-sold in pubs and markets, a director of the Co-Op retail chain has said.
Campaigns and public affairs director Paul Gerrard also revealed that one store’s tobacco and spirits section is raided by masked men up to three times a week.
He told GB News: “The problem with that narrative is that what’s driving this isn’t people who are struggling to make ends meet because of the cost of living crisis…that’s driven by organised crime, that’s driven by people targeting our shops for stealing large volumes of product for re-sale.
“We are seeing 1,000 incidents a day, that’s a 35% [increase] and the ONS reported about two weeks ago that there’s been a 25% increase in shoplifting across all stores. The 1,000 are just ours but if you speak to any retailer you’ll get the same picture.”
In a discussion with Esther McVey and Philip Davies, he continued: “Absolutely, of course there are people who will steal too because they are struggling to make ends meet. That’s always happened. But that 35% increase is driven by, for example at a particular store in London, with three masked men jumping the kiosk two or three times a week.
“In order to clear out the cigarettes, the spirits, all the expensive things are put into large bags. I’ve seen footage and spoken to colleagues where people have come in with wheelie bins to put the entire meat and protein section in.
“That’s not for their own use. That’s to re-sell in pubs and clubs and marketplaces and street corners. And to do that, you’ve got to be working with people who can provide that organised criminality.”
He added: “We only report to the police serious incidents. We don’t report someone stealing a ham sandwich, we report someone stealing £600 of spirits.”
Source: GB News