British co-operative retailer Co-op is re-inforcing its supermarket security by installing 200 secure till kiosks, locked cabinets for spirits and AI (artificial intelligence) technology to supervise self-checkouts.
The move follows a 44% increase in retail crime, equating to around 1,000 incidents daily.
The UK-based grocery retailer operates a network of 2,400 stores. It reported detaining 3,361 individuals in 2023 for offences including burglary and harassment.
Co-op has already invested £200m in security measures such as additional guards and undercover teams, but cases of shoplifting have increased by 48%, reaching 298,000 occurrences, The Guardian has reported.
In some locations, staff encounter multiple theft attempts weekly, with thieves targeting alcohol, cigarettes and lottery cards.
Co-op food managing director Matt Hood was quoted as saying: “This is not a few opportunistic shoplifters becoming more prolific. This is organised crime and looting.
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“People who are really organised can only be stopped by custodial sentences and the police. We need it to have consequences.
The thing that concerns me more than anything is that we have colleagues who won’t bother to report [incidents] as they know they are not going to get a reaction.
“If you have detained somebody that has committed a crime and the police don’t turn up, you have to let them go. You can imagine how demotivating that is for people working in the shop and how motivating [it is] for shoplifters.”
The retailer believes that with serious incident prioritisation and police collaboration, the issue can be addressed effectively.
The company recently launched the UK’s first convenience retail media network, Co-op Media Network.