Grocers lock up cheese as shoplifting crisis hits UK

Cheese in an Aldi store in the UK featuring security tags. Picture: X (Twitter)

Cheese in an Aldi store in the UK featuring security tags. Picture: X (Twitter)

Published Jan 19, 2024


The shoplifting epidemic in the UK is now so bad that R90 cheese and R30 chocolate bars are being put in locked security cases to deter thieves.

Recently, smaller, relatively cheaper consumer goods have been given the kind of protection more often provided for high-risk products such as razors or expensive alcohol.

Shoppers were shocked that retail crime has become so widespread that even R90 blocks of cheese are deemed to need guarding against shoplifters.

According to the Daily Mail, the move comes as Britain's high street retailers suffer a shoplifting epidemic costing £1billion (R24.1 billion) each year, with British police accused of going soft on serial thieves.

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Speaking to the Daily Mail, one shopper said: “I did a double-take when I saw it. It used to just be expensive items, but now a bar of chocolate that costs just over £1? It's very sad.”

A spokeswoman today told Mail Online these include not only 'higher-value chocolates' but also coffee, washing powder and laundry gels.

Shoppers were encouraged to take dummy display cases to tills to exchange for the actual product.

The measures come as shoplifting offences recorded by police in England and Wales soared by a quarter in the previous 12 months, according to an Office for National Statistics report in October 2024.

And new data last week revealed more than 200,000 shoplifting cases went unsolved in the past year, an average of 560 each day and more than half of all cases.

The amount of cases across England and Wales closed without a suspect being identified leapt by a third to 205,676 in the year to July - equivalent to 560 per day

Dummy 'display only' coffee jars were put on shelves after 200g Kenco Smooth instant coffee rose 13% in price, while Nescafe Gold Blend was also taken down after increasing to £9.35 (R225).

And one of the Co-op's, a UK grocers, directors criticised police for failing to respond to call-outs, as he revealed gangs of thieves were attempting to steal entire sections of stores.

Paul Gerrard, the Co-op's director of public affairs, told last November how raiders were regularly entering shops and trying to take large quantities of meat, spirits and other high-value items.

Bosses at Aldi, Boots, M&S and Sainsbury's were among dozens of firms signing a letter to the government calling for assaults on staff to be better recorded, as it was revealed one in three public-facing retail workers were considering quitting.

Justice secretary Alex Chalk, last month told the Mail on Sunday he wanted first-time shoplifters tagged with tracking devices in a new crackdown on high-street crime .

The Metropolitan Police has announced plans to introduce its own 'game-changing' facial recognition technology to capture prolific shoplifters, matching retailers' CCTV imagery with Scotland Yard's custody shots.