Greggs has appeared in a top five list of retailers hit by shoplifting and theft in one of the country’s biggest police regions.
The bakery chain has been one of the high street shops hardest hit in a table headed by ALDI and then Tesco, ASDA and One Stop.
More than 100 offences were recorded at its branches by West Midlands Police between January 23 and October 23 this year.
Overall, the regional snapshot shows that thousands of reported offences since the start of 2022 resulted in no further action with no suspect being identified. The force responded to the figures by saying it is ‘committed’ to tackling theft and the underlying causes.
Greggs, which has 20 branches in Birmingham alone, is among retailers on the frontline of a rising tide of shoplifting and theft.
The scourge has been blamed on the cost of living crisis and organised crime gangs, with differing views on which is the main factor.
The pastry seller was reported at the weekend to have removed doughnuts from display boxes to prevent them from being pinched at a store in East Ham, east London. In September, a store in Archway, north London, was forced to padlock drinks in a fridge to prevent thefts, according to The Sun.
Greggs was fifth in the list with 108 recorded thefts in the West Midlands, compared with 173 at Aldi, 140 at Tesco, 115 at ASDA and 110 at One Stop.
Last year Tesco was top, followed by ALDI, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Boots.
While Greggs has dozens of stores in the region, they are tiny by comparison with a far smaller range of products.
Overall, the number of shoplifting and theft offences at shops recorded by the force rose from 3,447 between January and October last year to 4,262 over the same period in 2023.
Groceries were the most targeted item, followed by household goods.
Greggs is among retailers who are bearing the brunt of the rising tide of thefts and associated behaviour including aggression and violence.
A 27% increase in retail crime and a £2.8 billion loss from customer theft in the last financial year has been described as ‘the tip of the iceberg’ by the British Independent Retailers’ Association.
Graham Wynn, assistant director of business regulation at the British Retail Consortium, told Metro.co.uk: ‘Shoplifting is not a victimless crime — it costs retailers, and ultimately customers, almost £1 billion a year, money that would be better used to reduce prices for everyone.
‘Retailers are working hard trying to tackle this issue, spending hundreds of millions on security staff, CCTV, security tags, and other anti-crime measures. More police action is needed as without an effective deterrent, criminals will continue to steal with impunity.’
The figures also show that in 5,596 cases across the two years, a named suspect was not identified, with the next most common outcome being 1,260 cases where ‘evidential difficulties’ prevented any progress.
In 1,022 cases, charges or summons were brought.
The youngest suspect in the data released by West Midlands Police was aged nine and the oldest 71.
A spokesperson for the force said: ‘We fully understand the impact and frustration of shoplifting on businesses of all sizes.
‘It’s a crime which can affect livelihoods. We’re committed to reducing shop thefts and carry out high visibility patrols in retail areas, along with activity to identify and catch offenders.
‘As part of our new more local policing model we’re in the process of ensuring more investigations are referred to the neighbourhood team.
‘Using local officer knowledge we aim to identify suspects and any emerging trends or hotspots quicker.
‘We pursue prosecution action where appropriate but we also look at the underlying causes of shoplifting and have invested in rehabilitation and intervention programmes to help reduce these offences. By breaking the cycle of offending we can help reduce crime on our streets.’
Tesco, Aldi and Boots are among retailers taking part in a new partnership together with the police and government to try and stop shoplifting by organised gangs. Project Pegasus, which has the backing of the Home Office, will involve sharing intelligence across a single platform to better identify repeat offenders.
Metro.co.uk has approached Greggs for comment.
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