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A Tesco store has resorted to using a heavy-duty padlock on a fridge to stop thieves stealing champagne.

Bottles of Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Lanson and Taittinger costing from £30 to £50 are displayed in the fridge in the Tesco Extra in Purley, south London.

The fridge also contains luxury vodka brands. Customers can only buy the bottles by asking a member of staff to open it.

Earlier this month it emerged a Sainsbury’s store had replaced bottles with cardboard cutouts, with signs telling customers to go to customer service if they wanted to buy them, while Morrisons has introduced a ‘buzz for booze’ button system on locked cabinets stocked with alcohol.

It comes amid an ‘epidemic’ of thefts costing supermarkets and high street stores £1 billion a year, with a theft taking place every two seconds. Experts say Britain is in a state of crisis with police failing to prosecute thieves.

Bottles of Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Lanson and Taittinger costing from £30 to £50 are displayed in the fridge in the Tesco Extra in Purley, South London

It’s not the first time Tesco has resorted to extreme measures. Last year they put security tags on milk following incidents of shoplifting

High street stores are now being turned into fortresses to try and prevent shoplifiting, with everyday items from duvets to washing powder put under lock and key.

The problem has even led to the Co-op warning some communities could become ‘no-go’ areas for shops.

And a Sainsbury’s in south London, which was once the chain’s biggest supermarket in the country, is set to shut later this year with staff claiming theft is one of the factors behind the decision.

Fortress stores are introducing extra guards, electronic security barriers at self-service tills, body cameras for employees and even facial recognition systems to spot known shoplifters. 

Some retailers are putting dummy packages on sale – for products such as coffee – which have to be taken to the till to be swapped for the real thing.

The idea of locking up products began with wine and spirits before being extended to other high-value items such as steaks, imported cheeses, razor blades and manuka honey.

But now everyday essentials such as washing powder, milk, baby formula, butter, laundry gel and coffee have been tagged. 

Chicken for sale in a Tesco Express with security marking on it earlier this year amid the shoplifting epidemic

Even Ferrero Rocher boxes have been seen in plastic cases. 

Last week it emerged that home furnishing giant Dunelm is locking up its duvets and pillowcases in pin-protected cabinets.

And Iceland stores now have rows of roasting joints, Persil and other laundry products in security cases. 

Generally, officers do not attend and prosecute reports of shoplifting if the value of items taken is below £200.

The British Retail Consortium has reported a 27 per cent surge in losses due to shoplifting which has, in some cases, become organised looting, taking the figure close to £1billion a year.

Young thugs are sharing theft tips and organising mass raids, for example on designer stores in London’s Oxford Street, over social media app TikTok. 

Emmeline Taylor, professor of criminology at City University, wrote in a report, called Fortress Stores, published by the ECR Retail Loss group: ‘There is a strong relationship between substance misuse, shop theft and the use of violence and aggression by drug-affected offenders.

‘Industry research in the UK suggests that the majority of thefts committed against retail businesses (79 per cent) are by repeat offenders that are not being sufficiently tackled by the police.’

Tesco is to start offering bodycameras to staff, while the Asda chairman Lord Stuart Rose has called for tougher action by the police. 

The Co-op has suffered record levels of crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour with almost 1,000 incidents each day in the six months to June – a 35 per cent annual increase.

It said one of its stores in inner London was ‘looted’ three times in one day. 

‘This level of out-of-control crime is unsustainable and could even see some communities become a no-go area for local stores,’ a spokesman added.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has stressed she wants police to investigate all crimes where there is good evidence, such as CCTV. The nation’s police forces have signed up to the initiative.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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