Theft from convenience stores in the UK reached record levels last year, according to a trade body, blaming criminal gangs and a cost-of-living crisis.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), which represents 48,000 stores, said there were more than 1.1 million incidents in the last 12 months.
The most stolen items were higher value goods such as meat, alcohol and confectionery.
Those responsible often had a drug or alcohol addiction, or were part of a wider organised group, the ACS said in a new report.
Retailers have now put anti-theft devices on high-value items, while in pharmacies some items such as make-up are no longer on display because of repeated theft.
ACS chief executive James Lowman called the levels of theft “unprecedented”, blaming offenders who are known to police but can steal “without fear of reproach”.
UK police have come in for criticism for not prioritising certain crimes, particularly theft of lower priced goods.
Inflation remains stubbornly high in the UK and at 8.7 percent over the 12 months to May is the highest of any G7 country.
The combination of high inflation and soaring household energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen the cost of living ramp up, forcing many Britons to tighten their belts.
The country has also been gripped by a wave of public and private sector strikes, with workers calling for pay increases to keep pace with prices.
© Agence France-Presse