40% rise in cases of shoplifting in Harlow

News / Sat 5th Apr 2014 at 07:45am

THE number of cases of food shoplifting in Harlow rose by about 40% 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.

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.”

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