Co-op supermarket resorts to putting empty ‘display packs‘ of coffee combat shoplifting 

Theft-hit Co-op supermarket resorts to putting empty ‘display packs‘ of coffee and washing detergent on shelves to combat shoplifting

A supermarket hit by thieves has resorted to putting empty ‘display packs‘ of coffee and washing detergent on the shelves to combat shoplifting.

The Co-op in Redcliffe, Bristol, is targeted several times a day and often by the same offenders who try to disguise themselves, according to staff.

Now the store is displaying empty coffee jars, ranging from £2.27 Co-op own brand ‘rich roast‘ to Kenco‘s £8.48 premium option, and detergent packs which require customers to request them from the counter and staff get them from the stockroom.

As people ‘often go for meat‘, only one steak and two packs of premium Irresistible bacon or Cathedral City cheese are allowed, according to a shop worker.

Staff are also cutting out the bottom of confectionery boxes so anyone attempting to take the whole box will see the bars tumble to the floor.  

In the detergent aisle, 12 empty display packs fill the shelves, including an £8.09 Ariel gel and £3 Bold product. 

A shop worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, said most customers are ‘oblivious‘ the criminal activity, especially the ‘affluent office workers‘.

They claimed people ‘nick these things because they can sell them on easily for a decent value‘.       

‘We have a ‘limiter‘ on the Cathedral City cheese too, with just two packs out. The only cheese the shoplifters don‘t tend to go for is the Co-op own brand.‘

They are cutting holes in the bottom of chocolate bar boxes to combat thefts. 

Their attempts to combat thefts by cutting holes in the bottom of chocolate bar boxes have proved a success as the employer revealed a woman picked up a box of Munchies and the store ‘heard chocolates ‘hit the floor‘.      

‘Now, you‘re not going to be picking up the whole box unless you‘ve really got the Munchies or you‘re nicking it, so I confronted her and I was able to get the sweets back.‘

Shoplifters have even taken to changing their appearance so they are not recognised by staff, the employee revealed.

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There are ‘usual suspects‘ who come into the store potentially wearing a wig which the staff develop a ‘sixth sense‘ for recognising their body language.  

Police are too busy to attend reports of shoplifting and company policy prevents them tackling shoplifters, he said.

The worker says that company policy often prevents them from tackling shoplifters, and the police are too busy to attend reports of shoplifting.

He added: ‘Police do not investigate most of the thefts because they are low value.

‘We understand that, but if you think about why these people are doing it, they will do a resale to fund a quick hit of whatever drug they are using.

‘Think of all the addiction issues we are facing in this city. This is where it starts.‘

A spokesman for Southern Co-op claim the company has experienced an increase in retail crime ‘along with other retailers‘.

They ‘consider a range of security measures‘ to make the company ‘less of a target for shoplifters‘ to protect colleagues.    

In 2018 there were 10,663 shoplifting offences committed across the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, of which 4,022 were in Bristol. 

The county‘s police claim to have made ‘every effort to attend if resources are available‘ while also admitting funding cuts has had an impact.  

‘We have focused our approach on crime reduction and working in partnership with retailers through schemes such as Shop Watch.‘  

The spokesman continued: ‘Prioritisation of crimes, such as serious sexual offences, child sexual exploitation, high risk missing people, drugs and modern slavery or human trafficking means we have to make tough decisions about getting the right resource with the right skills to all requests for our services which require a response.‘

This comes just over a year after Co-op in Romiley, Greater Manchester, removed coffee because too much was being stolen.

It included signs saying: ‘For coffee, please ask staff.‘

Meanwhile Sainsbury‘s locked its £20 jars of Manuka honey in plastic boxes following a series of thefts, in May last year. 


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