Co-op managing director Matt Hood has hit back at profiteering claims used to justify “out of control” levels of shoplifting.
The convenience retailer recorded over 175,000 incidents of crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in the first six months of 2023, which equates to almost 1,000 incidents a day.
Hood has expressed that he is “disappointed” over people defending this behaviour, which comes following MP concerns last month that supermarkets could be profiteering as food prices continued to rise, The Telegraph reported.
Hood told the publication: “I was reading some of the comments when we’ve spoken about shoplifting being on the rise and people were saying ‘well, they are making so much money, so what difference does it make?’
“What drives me insane is the amount of people who want to claim it is victimless. Tell me, if that was your child working in that shop, would you say it is a victimless crime because it is fundamentally not.”
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Hood has urged that the idea of the cost-of-living crisis being the reason as to why “people can’t afford to feed themselves,” is incorrect.
“It’s fundamentally because people are using baby formula to cut drugs. They’re using it for organised crime.”
In June, a shopper at Co-op’s Aylesbury branch found that the retailer had begun locking baby formula in security cases, which it said was to protect the safety of colleagues.
The British Retail Consortium said there were around eight million incidents of shoplifting in the 12 months to March, however, police recorded 339,206 cases.
Just 48,218 of these incidents resulted in charges.
As a result, Hood has called on the police to “play their part,” as Co-op has invested more than £200m in recent years in colleague and community safety, which equates to four times the average sector spend on security and safety measures per store.
While shoplifting, theft, burglary and common assault do not always lead to prison sentences, ministers are to bring in harsher punishments for several offences in a crime and justice bill that will see judges imposing custody.