Shoplifting is blighting Thornton Heath with police revealing theft figures are affected in the ward because of high levels of stealing from shops. At a local ward policing meeting an officer explained the Tesco store on Brigstock Road had the ‘highest level’ of shoplifting amongst Tesco stores in the country.

In the store shoppers may have noticed that specific items have significant security tagging especially baby milk which had become a target of desperate thieves. The Chronicle understands that the chain Iceland, which has store further up Brigstock Road, has a similar issue with shoplifting. However, overall crime in the ward compared with this time last year is a massive 40 per cent down.

A Retail Research report commissioned as part of the regeneration of Thornton Heath also identified that other shops in the High Street had problems with crime and shoplifting with one branch described as having a ‘high manager turnover’ because it has a reputation ‘as being a headache to manage’. The report also revealed that customers compared prices between similar types of shops and used bartering as a method to buy cheaper. One business suggested a walkie-talkie system might be beneficial to the area. Many town centres have established Business Watch which works on a similar basis to Neighbourhood watch providing early warning systems for retailers to warn neighbouring shops of crime or anti-social behaviour.

A Tesco spokesman would not be drawn on whether the Thornton Heath store had higher levels of shoplifting than others describing this as ‘rumour’ adding that Tesco: ‘cannot release information on the demography of individuals or cost to the store.’ The Tesco spokesperson added “We take our responsibilities in the community very seriously and, like all stores, are occasionally targeted by shoplifters. We employ security guards and have a number of measures in place. The safety and security of our customers and colleagues is our number one priority.” Tesco said it routinely applies security tag measures to high value or frequently targeted items and this is not unique to the Thornton Heath store adding shoplifters will face a ban or face prosecution where appropriate.