Shoplifting of food in Essex rises by 20%

  • 4 April 2014
  • From the section Essex
A shoplifter
Image caption Southend was the police district with the largest rise in incidents of food shoplifting

The number of cases of food shoplifting in Essex rose by about 20% last year.

Figures from Essex Police show there were 2,752 thefts in 2013, compared to 2,290 in 2012.

Basildon, Colchester and Harlow saw particularly high percentage increases, with Southend showing the highest increase at 44%.

A food bank charity urged anyone who was struggling to come to them for support so they did not need to resort to stealing.

The figures were released following a Freedom of Information Act request by BBC Essex.

'Some sympathy'

Duncan Craig, manager of Harlow food bank, said: "Clearly there's an underlying difficulty here of people seeking solutions to some crisis in their life and resorting to food theft.

"We get referred clients who have been apprehended and prosecuted for food theft and in order to help them through the crisis, we support them so that they don't reoffend."

Ian Wicks, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "We've got some sympathy, but theft is theft, so if the business feels that it's a victim of crime and wants to see that person prosecuted, then they should be."

Nick Alston, Essex police and crime commissioner, said: "Some of that food is being stolen to sell, some is being stolen for real need and some is by organised gangs.

"There is no excuse for theft and the police will always take it seriously.

"I do want police officers to use their discretion, but if they find someone in real distress they can refer them to social services or to food banks."

Shoplifting of food offences (not including sweets and confectionery)
Police district 2012 2013 % change
Basildon 303 396 30% rise
Brentwood & Epping 177 171 3% drop
Castle Point & Rochford 197 192 2.5% drop
Chelmsford & Maldon 266 243 8.6% drop
Colchester 209 257 23% rise
Harlow 257 358 39% rise
Southend 305 440 44% rise
Stansted Airport 14 7 50% drop
Tendring 225 310 38% rise
Thurrock 198 219 10% rise
Uttlesford & Braintree 139 159 14% rise
TOTAL 2290 2752 20% rise

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