Shoplifting rockets during recession

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The Independent Online

Thefts from shops in the UK soared by a record 19 per cent to nearly £5bn in the year to the end of June, as a new breed of middle-class shoplifter sought to maintain a wardrobe of luxury items during the recession. The Global Retail Theft Barometer 2009 also revealed that Britain remains at the top of the European shoplifting league ahead of Germany and France.

Across Europe, the average shoplifting trip nets thieves £80.31, with the most popular items being expensive branded goods, such as designer clothing and accessories, according to the survey by the Centre for Retail Research for Checkpoint Systems.

Neil Matthews, of Checkpoint Systems, said: "We are seeing more instances of amateur thieves stealing goods for their own personal use rather than to sell on than before, epitomised in the recent uprising of the middle-class shoplifter." UK shoplifters, retail staff and suppliers stole an extra £750m, taking total shrinkage, which includes internal errors, to £4.88bn in 2009.

Joshua Bamfield, a director at the Centre for Retail Research, said: "UK retailers have had to cut back on staff and there is a feeling among criminals that nothing really happens if you steal from shops."