Shoplifting store hotspots show food biggest target
Food is the biggest target for shoplifters according to figures which also reveal which stores are hit hardest.
Asda in Wrexham recorded the highest level of shoplifting of any store in Wales over the past three years with 350 offences, BBC Wales found.
The chain was the most hit by thieves in three Welsh police force areas.
Asda said it took such crimes seriously but shoplifters accounted for a tiny fraction of people visiting its stores.
The statistics compiled by BBC Wales found Asda came top in shoplifting crime in North Wales, Gwent and Dyfed-Powys Police force areas.
In the South Wales Police force area Boots stores in Swansea and Cardiff reported the most shoplifting.Food shoplifting
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says more than eight out of 10 adult shoplifters have a previous conviction which suggests that current sentencing has a "limited impact" in preventing re-offending.
The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, also show that in every area of Wales, food is the most shoplifted item.
Earlier this month, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick said officers will start to give details of food banks to shoplifters because of concern about crime being committed to get drugs or food.
Shoplifting in north Wales has increased by 21.7% compared with last year, which Mr Roddick said accounted for 10% of all local crime.
The statistics on the worst-hit stores throughout Wales show:
- In the North Wales Police area, Asda stores at Wrexham, Llandudno and Kinmel Bay have the most shoplifting offences. Three Tescos are also in the top 10
- In Dyfed-Powys force area, Llanelli's Asda store had the most offences (280). Five Tescos also feature in this top 10
- In the South Wales Police area, Boots stores in The Quadrant, Swansea, (308) and Queen Street, Cardiff, (307) topped the list
- In Gwent, Asda was again the most shoplifted store, with the Newport branch (124 offences) at the top. Morrisons at Caerphilly, Newport and Ebbw Vale were also in the top 10.
In a statement, an Asda spokesperson said: "Our total customer numbers for the stores you list have been around the 10m mark so as you can see this is a minute fraction (around 0.005%) of the people who visited our stores during this period.
"That said we do take shoplifting very seriously and work with police and crime squads to bring this figure down even further and allow us to continue to offer the low prices that customers expect from Asda.
"That's probably one of the reasons why it looks like we have 'the most shoplifting offences' - we're just good at catching it and reporting it."Convictions
BBC Wales also asked two of the other chains for comment. Boots said it invests significantly in crime prevention and have a number of measures in place and Tesco said staff "work very closely with the local police" to prevent shoplifting.
According to the BRC, the direct cost was £511m in the years 2012-13 and the amount retailers spend on crime prevention measures is virtually the same.
It is calling for shoplifting to be "taken seriously within the criminal justice system", claiming half of all fines for shoplifting go unpaid so it wants sentences changed to act be a stronger deterrent.
According to its figures for 2012, 85% of adult shoplifters who were caught had a previous conviction, with 41% of them having 10 or more convictions.