Monday, May 27, 2024

‘Frightening’ increase in shoplifting amid 74,000 thefts

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Chief Executive of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association has described an increase in thefts last year – driven mainly by robberies from shops – as “frightening”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Vincent Jennings said it is not just just the thefts that are concerning but the associated incidents – such as assaults, assaults causing harm, drunkenness, misogynistic and hateful comments being made to staff and public order offences.

Annual crime figures released by the Central Statistics Office show there was a significant increase in theft offences last year.

Almost half of the more than 74,000 thefts and related offences last year were related to thefts from shops, a crime that is continuing to increase.

Robbery, extortion and blackmail offences increased by 26% and burglaries also slightly increased last year.

Serious and organised crime offences remained static or reduced.

Homicide and related offences were down by 19% from 80 to 65 incidents over the year.

Most of the decrease was due to a fall in the murder rate.

Drugs, guns and explosives offences remained at the same level last year as in 2022.

Sexual offences were also down 11% to 3,354 reported incidents while public order and other social code offences were down by 8%.

Mr Jennings said staff and shop owners have great faith in gardaí, but too frequently people become violent and abusive towards staff once confronted and that leads to a lawless situation developing.

He said it is primarily food and alcohol that is stolen, as well as healthcare and cosmetics, adding that a significant number of products are stolen for resale, such as dishwasher pods.

Mr Jennings said that while the cost of living is causing problems, some theft is just “pure and utter theft for financial purposes”.

He said that because shops’ margins are low and security costs are high, to dip into that on a very regular basis makes a shop unsustainable and unviable.

He called for a zero-tolerance policy to be adopted.

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Retail Excellence Ireland also warned that urgent action is needed in order to deal with the large increase in retail crime.

It said that while the increase in reported thefts is particularly concerning, it was notable that these figures did not take account of anti-social behaviour which retailers of all sizes were encountering across the country.

“The statistics from the CSO back up what we’re hearing from our members on a daily basis; that the retail industry is increasingly being targeted by criminals across the country,” said Jean McCabe, chief executive of REI.

“These actions by a small minority have a hugely negative effect on retailers and their customers, and something needs to be done to reverse what is a very worrying trend.”

“We would hope and expect that our incoming Taoiseach will follow through on making law and order in Ireland one of his top priorities.”

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