Cost of living: Co-op supermarket locks down £2 item in anti-theft boxes after spike in shoplifting

  • Supermarkets are now securing everyday and low-price items in cases to deter theft
  • Traditionally, high-value and frequently stolen items are kept in these security boxes
  • A Co-op in Cambridge has locked up meats, cheeses, cleaning products, and baby formula
  • According to the ONS, shoplifting offences rose by 37% in 2023 to the highest levels since 2003

Numerous everyday and low-price items are now being kept in security boxes at supermarkets, as the cost of living crisis pushes more people struggling to make ends meet to shoplifting.

Supermarkets typically keep high-value and frequently stolen items - like bottles of wine and spirits, electronics and their accessories and over-the-counter medications and supplements - in security boxes to deter theft.

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These items are placed in such boxes because they are small, high-value and have a high resale potential, making them attractive to shoplifters.

But GPS-protected cases have been observed on shop shelves this week (11 June) keeping wandering fingers away from “high-value” items like chicken thighs - and £2 bars of chocolate.

(Photos: SWNS)(Photos: SWNS)
(Photos: SWNS) | SWNS

To enhance anti-theft measures, a Co-op in Cambridge has secured its meats, cheeses, chocolate, cleaning products, and baby formula behind plastic, with photos showing £3 blocks of cheese safely enclosed in the boxes.

Bottles of fabric softener and packs of chicken thighs, priced at £2 and £4.25 respectively, have also been locked up, and four rows of various meats, including steaks and sausages, were also shown in cases.

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The store has also secured multiple shelves of baby formula, coffee and dishwasher tablets in the cases.

The boxes - which claim to be “protected by GPS” - warn shoppers that they must be removed at checkout before leaving the store, and that shoplifters will be prosecuted.

According to the ONS, shoplifting offences increased by 37% in 2023, reaching 430,104 offences, the highest figure since current police recordings began in 2003.

The ongoing cost of living could have played a major part in that rise, due to the increased financial pressure on many families - when faced with soaring prices for essential goods, some may feel compelled to resort to theft to provide for their basic needs.

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This surge in shoplifting can be seen as a symptom of broader economic distress rather than just criminal behaviour.

While theft is illegal, the underlying causes are often rooted in systemic issues such as unemployment, inadequate social support and rising living costs.

What’s the ‘strangest’ thing you’ve ever seen kept in a supermarket security box? Use the comments section to let us know.

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