Warnings on packs of cheese have been introduced which state: ‘Caution. Security device must be removed at the checkout before leaving the store’
Blocks of cheese are being sold in secure cases as cost of living crisis bites
The attempt to curb cheese thieves has been introduced at a supermarket where the radical steps have been taken.
Meat items are also on the shelves in ‘plastic cassettes’ which cashiers have to open first.
Warnings on the pack have been introduced on items including the £2.50 cheese blocks which state: “Caution. Security device must be removed at the checkout before leaving the store.”
Consumer experts at Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent say they are ‘not surprised’ that desperate families are resorting to shoplifting.
executive Simon Harris told StokeonTrentLive: “It’s not something we have had direct experience of but I am not surprised.
“I think there are an awful lot of people in the city, and we are seeing increasing numbers, who are really struggling to meet their basic day-to-day living costs.
“With the increases in fuel prices, council tax, rent and so on – it’s squeezing household budgets beyond reasonable levels and I think people may find themselves having to resort to extreme measures just in order to survive.
“I am not surprised shops are finding themselves having to do this. If shops think that it is a serious enough problem and this would deter people from shoplifting then that’s what they have to do.
“I’m not sure if it’s a solution, the solution would be removing the need and to put more money in the pockets of the poorest families in the city.
“Poorer families are, and will find it harder to, cover their basic living costs. We’ve seen this building for a while, probably for several years. We’ve seen the usage of food banks increase dramatically.
“There are three things we’d advise people to do. The first is to check that they are getting all the money they are entitled to – and we can help them do that.
“Secondly, have a look at your weekly budget and see if there’s anything left in there that isn’t essential and whether you can cut back to free up some money for essentials.
“Thirdly, make sure you are given the support you are entitled to.
“For example, we’ve been giving out fuel vouchers which have come from the city council’s household fund and there’s the £150 council tax rebate coming at some time in the near future.”
Shoppers have sympathy with the Co-op staff. It is also inconvenient for law-abiding customers who cannot use the self-scan tills because of the added security.
Emma Corroon has previously written to the Co-op raising concerns about shoplifting at the store.
She said: “Staff are told not to stop someone trying to shoplift or put themselves at harm, so they just have to stand back and let it happen which is really upsetting.
“I’ve lived on this estate nearly 22 years, so I’ve witnessed the shoplifting over the years and it has got increasingly worse.
“I think people know they can get away with it here because they’re not challenged.”
The store decides on its security measures on a shop-by-shop basis.
A Co-op spokesman said: “The technology is used in local stores where needed, in particular on higher-value items. It sits alongside a range of security measures used to deter and detect shoplifting.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.