Haringey has experienced record high levels of shoplifting since the start of the year.
There have already been 1785 reported incidents up to the end of October, which already exceeds any of the previous 10 years, Met Police figures reveal.
Those numbers are more than double compared to 10 years ago, with two months still to go.
Dubbed the “shoplifting epidemic”, the rising trend is an increasingly worrying issue in all of the capital’s boroughs.
However, these already alarming figures might actually be several times higher as most businesses do not report these incidents to the police.
A big retailer’s point of view
Alastair Hall, a Loss Prevention Manager at TK Maxx Harringay said: “Retail crime has increased year on year since Covid.
“There is also on the back of that an increase of violence and aggression which sometimes goes hand in hand.”
Hall explained that some use an opportunity to hide and not pay for goods, while others are much more organised and form gangs.
These are especially troublesome for stores such as TK Maxx Haringey, located in retail parks, where they park their car outside, fill up a trolley, take it to the parking lot, fill up the boot as quickly as possible and leave.
He added: “In Haringey we’re very recently seeing more ‘runners’, an increase in people not being shy about what they are trying to do and not being discreet about what they are doing.
“They just come into the store, grab as much of what they want and run out.
“It has also become more organised.
“Recently we had a group of four who employed a distraction technique where one person would talk to the security guard on the door, one person would talk to the managers, one person would look overly-suspicious while the main person would grab what they can and run.”
So how do retailers deal with this “shoplifting epidemic”?
Calling the police is the very last resort, and happens only when the value of stolen goods is over £500 pounds, in cases of a prolific shoplifter committing other offences such as theft or abuse, or if it is somebody the store has built up a case against.
Moreover, taking the issue into one’s own hands can go terribly wrong and happens when someone decides to run outside after an offender.
Not only might they cause the company more trouble, but above all they risk being attacked, run over by a car, beaten up or even stabbed.
Small businesses’ perspective
While some retailers have seen an increase in shoplifting activity specifically since the beginning of the year and others have not, they mostly agree on two things: it is getting worse and the police are not helping them tackle the problem.
Their answers may vary of what they do when they fall victim to shoplifting, however, ten out of 13 retailers located on Green Lanes in Haringey said they tend not to call the police when it happens, with the collective belief that they don’t really do anything for small thefts.
And, just like the bigger retailers, when confronting criminals their staff may also get verbally and even physically abused.
One of a family run off-license stores’ manager spoke about a 85 year old family member being pushed by a shoplifter.
What do the police say to all of this?
When asked about data regarding how many offenders end up in court, what decides whether or not they show up and after being confronted with the victim’s comments, the police sent a link for further reading and provided an official statement regarding shoplifting.
The statement claimed it is not realistic for the Met to respond to every case of shoplifting, but in cases where a situation may escalate their dispatchers make a decision to send officers if needed.
The statement added that the police do realise the negative impact this crime has on retail workers, and the wider business community.
In the near future
With inflation at 4.6% and festive season round the corner shop owners can only brace for more crime.
Also the statistics are not in their favour since, the months of November and December are not only busy for them but for shoplifters as well.