Shoplifting increases as prices rise

2008-07-25 00:00

The shoplifting of small food items and toiletries has increased since the prices of food, electricity and fuel started to go up steeply.

Major supermarket groups have seen a significant increase in the theft of items like bread, tinned goods and maize meal from shelves as consumers feel the pinch of the recent price hikes.

Other items like soap, razor blades and shampoo top the list of desperate shoplifters, many of whom are staff that work in the stores.

While the surge in shoplifting is a concern, worse is yet to come.

Gary Thomlinson, retail risk control manager for Spar in KwaZulu-Natal, said there has also been an increase in internal theft since the recent food and petrol price hikes.

He said staff have turned to stealing small food items and money to feed their families.

“Internal theft is a huge problem in our stores. Staff are stealing a lot because of tough economic times,” he said.

Thomlinson said staff skim money from the cash office and pension payout points.

“Some have even resorted to storing small food items in rubbish bins during the working hours.

Once the store has closed, they retrieve the food from the bin,” he said.

The owner of Knowles Spar in Pinetown, Roy Sheodin, said that while there has not been an increase in shoplifting in his store, “we will definitely see more shoplifting in the next three months”.

“Syndicates are also a major concern for us as this creates a big hole in the turnover,” Sheodin said.

Another shop owner, who declined to be named, said shoplifting is killing his business and he has installed cameras to monitor shoppers.

He is even considering hiring undercover guards.

“One soap might not seem like a lot, but 10 soaps stolen in a day adds up,” he said.

“Business is really suffering and things are going to get worse as the country gets into more financial difficulty,” the shopkeeper added.

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