Rise in middle class shoplifters

A PROPHECY of a surge in thefts due to the recession has become reality with a 50 per cent rise in shoplifting in Suffolk, it emerged today.

A PROPHECY of a surge in thefts due to the recession has become reality with a 50 per cent rise in shoplifting in Suffolk, it emerged today.

According to Suffolk Constabulary, figures for November 2008 to October 2009 compared to the same 12 months in the previous year have seen arrests for shoplifting increase to 1,209 from 802.

With Christmas approaching, the 400-plus rise in offences fuels the view that numbers of middle class shoplifters have risen as they turn to stealing groceries, including meat and dairy products.

Kate Rutsch, a spokeswoman for Suffolk police, said: “We would put these figures partly down to the recession. Even this county can't escape the credit crunch. We work very hard to tackle these issues. With the busiest time of the year coming up this type of offence will not be tolerated and we will seek to prosecute offenders.”


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Over the same two-year period police officers have also handed out 453 cautions to first-time thieves who have admitted shoplifting.

Many, but not all, are included in the arrest figures issued by Suffolk police after a freedom of information request.

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In December last year Suffolk's chief constable Simon Ash warned the economic downturn was likely to have an impact on crimes involving stealing.

The business community also puts down the increase in shoplifting to the effects of the economic downturn.

Richard Dodd, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Experience of past recessions such as the one in the early 90s is that stealing rises. That is certainly what we expected to see in this recession and what we have seen.”

Mr Dodd added there seems to have been a shift in the typical shoplifter from someone with a drug dependency stealing high-value goods to sell on, to greater numbers of people pilfering cheese and meat for themselves.

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