Now Boots locks up its baby formula as high street shops battle shoplifting epidemic with Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco all fitting security tags to every-day essentials
- Tubs of baby milks across several brands were fitted with security tags in London
Boots has joined the ranks of high-street shops locking up baby formula as chains battle a shoplifting epidemic that has seen Co-op, Aldi and Tesco all fitting security tags to every-day essentials.
Tubs of baby milk across several brands costing as little as £10.50 were fitted with security tags in the brand’s plush High Street Kensington store in central London.
It comes as police officers have been accused of failing to respond to violent attacks on retail staff amid a spiraling shoplifting epidemic – with the pharmacy saying that the items at most risk of theft are tagged.
The shop – which is the closest Boots to the celebrity enclave where stars including Robbie Williams and Elton John have mansions – says that these decisions are made on a store-by-store basis and it is not a company-wide policy.
This is despite the area where they are stored being underground, with potential shoplifters having to travel up an escalator and across the shop floor before escaping.
Tubs of baby milk across several brands costing as little as £10.50 were fitted with security tags in the brand’s plush store in High Street Kensington in Central London
It comes as police officers have been accused of failing to respond to violent attacks on retail staff amid a spiraling shoplifting epidemic
The shop – which is the closest Boots to celebrities including Robbie Williams and Elton John – says that these decisions are made on a store-by-store basis and it is not a company-wide policy
This is despite the area where they are stored being underground, with potential shoplifters having to travel up an escalator and across the shop floor before escaping
The pharmacy says that the items at most risk of theft are tagged – and this is decided on a store-by-store basis
A spokesperson for Boots said: ‘We do not have a policy to place security tags on baby formula.
READ MORE: Desperate parents turn to stealing baby formula to keep their children fed as black market springs up and one mother even considers selling sexual images of herself to pay for it
‘Decisions on what products to tag are made at a store level based on what is at most risk of theft in that location.
‘We also know that in some locations, baby formula is stolen with the intent to resell, and we have a duty to protect our stock for those that need it most.’
A powerful coalition of industry leaders today called on the police to help retailers and get tough on shoplifters and tackle unprecedented levels of theft.
Thefts are up by 24 per cent year on year with the cost to stores approaching £1billion a year.
Baby formula has previously been pictured behind the counter at a Sainsbury’s painting a bleak picture of families facing the cost-of-living crisis – as it was sandwiched between cigarettes and alchohol.
A black market for formula products has also sprung up in the UK, where parents are buying products obtained illegally for a lower price.
Data from First Steps Nutrition shows that even the cheapest brand of baby formula has risen in price by 45 percent in the last two years – leaving parents facing impossible choices as they seek to keep their children from going hungry.
Thefts are up by 24 per cent year on year with the cost to stores approaching £1billion a year
Data from First Steps Nutrition shows that even the cheapest brand of baby formula has risen in price by 45 percent in the last two years
Baby formula has previously been pictured behind the counter at a Sainsbury’s painting a bleak picture of families facing the cost-of-living crisis – as it was sandwiched between cigarettes and alchohol
Other brands have risen by between 17 percent and 31 percent, and the number of parents resorting to such measures has led some UK stores to security tag formula or even put it behind the tills alongside cigarettes.
READ MORE: Violent shoplifting gangs escape justice if they flee, claim fed-up owners amid calls for a crackdown on ‘unprecedented’ retail theft which ‘cannot be allowed to continue’
An investigation by Sky News revealed a new ‘black market’ for baby formula, with one set of parents saying they regularly purchase it from a ‘fence’ contact, who sells stolen formula for a third of the shelf price.
Speaking to the channel, one mother described how her partner steals formula from supermarkets after the cost of living crisis made it unaffordable.
Elsewhere, parents are opting to dilute formula with water, cow’s milk or even condensed milk in order to make it last longer.
Currently, officers will not attend where the value of items stolen is under £200, while retailers say even violent attacks on innocent staff are being ignored.
The coalition is made up of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which speaks for big supermarkets, as well as the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the British Independent Retail Association, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Federation of Independent Retailers and shopworkers’ union Usdaw.
The group has written to police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, calling on forces to prioritise gathering evidence related to violent attacks – and make it easier for retailers to report crimes.
It comes after a shop worker showed the extent of her injuries after being botted by a shoplifter.
Co-op has extended its trial of anti-theft empty or ‘dummy’ display packaging for targeted products on its shelves to deter rising levels of crime driven by prolific and persistent offenders and local organised criminal gangs
Chicken for sale in a Tesco Express with security marking on it that set off an alarm if shoppers try to steal food
Charlene Corbin, 28, has since shared pictures of her gruesome head wound to highlight the danger retailers face from increasingly brazen and violent thieves.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: ‘The unprecedented levels of shop theft being faced by retailers cannot be allowed to continue.
‘We have set out a three-pronged approach for police forces across the UK to adopt and make it clear that they are committed to tackling the problem.
‘Theft and abuse are a blight on communities, with addicts and criminal gangs repeatedly targeting hardworking retailers and their colleagues.
‘These are not victimless crimes, and they must be investigated to bring the most prolific offenders to justice.’
A recent study found 54.4 per cent of shoplifting involved supermarkets, with Co-op the worst affected, ahead of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi.
The John Lewis group, which includes the supermarket Waitrose, recently put its shoplifting losses at £12million.
And the group of businesses and workers now says it is time for police to make it easier to report a crime and submit evidence, identify prolific offenders behind anti-social behaviour sprees and to prioritise gathering evidence related to violent attacks.
Both Home Secretary Suella Braverman and policing minister Chris Philp have already called on police to be tougher on shoplifting.
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