Co-op shops hit by 'out-of-control crime' with almost 1,000 incidents a day

Co-op has put out CCTV footage of violent crimes committed in its stores as staff faced 1,000 crimes every day, ITV News' North of England Reporter Amy Welch has the latest

Staff at the Co-op have faced "out-of-control crime" in stores, with almost 1,000 incidents recorded every day in the first six months of 2023.

Shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and incidents of "looting" have increased by over a third at Co-op stores in the last year.

The company revealed there were more than 175,000 incidents from January to June, 2023 - almost 1,000 every day - and its managing director has said his staff "feel scared and threatened."

One inner city London store was "looted" three times in a single day.

On July 4, a man was arrested after a crane was used in an attempt to steal a cash machine outside a Co-op store in Barnham, West Sussex

The Co-op warned that this level of "out-of-control crime" is unsustainable and could see some communities become a no-go area for local stores.

The Co-op also revealed that front-line store workers have seen physical assaults increase year-on-year by almost a third. Credit: PA

The convenience retailer called on police forces and crime commissioners to target prolific offenders and local organised criminal gangs, with many said to operate without fear of being caught.

A Freedom of Information request by Co-op showed police failed to respond in 71% of serious retail crimes reported.

The Co-op also revealed that front-line store workers have seen physical assaults increase year-on-year by almost a third and, anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse by a fifth.

Matt Hood, Co-op Food managing director, said: “We know retail crime is driven by repeat and prolific offenders and, organised criminal gangs.

“It is an ongoing challenge for all retailers, and in the worst instances can even be described as ‘looting’.

“I have seen some horrific incidents of brazen and violent theft in our stores, where my store colleagues feel scared and threatened.

“I see first-hand how this criminal behaviour also erodes the very fabric of our communities – it’s hard to over-emphasise how important urgent change is.

“Co-op has invested significantly in keeping colleagues and stores safe, but we need the police to play their part.

“Too often, forces fail to respond to desperate calls by our store teams, and criminals are operating in communities without any fear of consequences.”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Our members are at the sharp end, seeing crime in their communities get steadily worse.

“Shop theft is rising because repeat offenders and organised criminals are targeting local shops to steal goods to resell.

“This organised criminal activity exploits vulnerable people by getting them to steal to order in exchange for their next fix, funds the illegal drug trade, and harms businesses that provide essential services to communities.

“The police have to face up to theft, violence and anti-social behaviour in and around local shops.

“Cracking down on the criminals who account for the majority of this crime against our members would be the most effective way to make our communities safer.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shop workers union Usdaw said: “Evidence is mounting that retail crime is on the increase.

“This is very concerning for our members in retail, because shoplifting is not a victimless crime.

“Theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers and, as the Co-op rightly says, it is often linked to organised crime gangs.”

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