Brazen Shoplifting at West Drayton Tesco Highlights Growing Retail Theft Crisis

A shocking video has emerged showing three men brazenly stealing bottles of liquor from a Tesco supermarket in West Drayton, London, while security guards look on helplessly – reported in the Daily Mail. The footage, which has sparked outrage, depicts the men laughing and chanting as they walk past the guards and exit the store with their stolen goods in hand.

This incident raises questions about the powers and responsibilities of in-store security personnel in combating shoplifting. Under Section 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, security officers have the authority to detain or perform a citizen’s arrest on individuals they reasonably suspect of shoplifting, allowing them to hold the suspected shoplifter until the police arrive.

Security officers are also permitted to use reasonable force to prevent a crime or make a lawful arrest, as per Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967. However, the force used must be proportionate to the situation and not excessive.

The West Drayton Tesco incident is just one example of the rapidly escalating shoplifting crisis that is gripping the United Kingdom. The Office for National Statistics reports that 2023 saw a record-breaking 430,104 shoplifting offences reported to the police, representing a staggering 37% increase from the 315,040 incidents recorded in 2022. This figure marks the highest annual total since record-keeping began in 2003.

Government and Police

Retailers are pointing the finger at government officials for effectively allowing shoplifting to go unchecked, as police frequently fail to respond to theft reports or gather evidence when they do arrive on the scene. According to Metropolitan Police data, officers responded to fewer than 40% of shoplifting calls between April 2022 and April 2023.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents most major retail chains, reports that customer theft more than doubled from 8 million to 16.7 million incidents in the year leading up to August 2023. While the cost-of-living crisis is seen as a primary driver of the shoplifting surge, lack of police intervention and organised crime are also cited as contributing factors.

Troy Hewitt, CEO of Assist Security Group (ASG), a leading provider of bespoke security solutions, comments, “The alarming rise in shoplifting incidents is a serious concern for retailers across the UK. Businesses must take proactive measures to protect their assets, employees, and customers. At ASG, we work closely with our clients to develop tailored security strategies that address their unique needs and risks, including comprehensive training for security personnel on their legal powers, appropriate use of force, and effective de-escalation techniques.”

Nightclub-Style Protection

Some shops are resorting to extreme loss prevention tactics in light of the epidemic, ranging from placing security tags on £2 chocolate bars and shopping baskets to implementing “nightclub-style door policies” with CCTV checks before allowing customers to enter. Security guards should also gather evidence, such as CCTV footage and witness statements, to support any allegations of shoplifting, as this can be crucial for successful prosecutions.

However, even when retailers manage to document thefts, stringent evidence requirements from police often prevent cases from being investigated or prosecuted. One store owner was told that unless stolen goods exceed £200 in value, the perpetrator’s full name is known, and their face is clearly captured on camera, the crime will not make it to court.

“Retailers need a comprehensive approach to security that combines well-trained personnel, advanced technology, and robust protocols,” adds Hewitt. “By partnering with experienced security providers like ASG, businesses can better mitigate risks, protect their assets, and create a safe environment for their staff and customers.

“Our team works hand in hand with the police wherever possible, providing them with evidence and cooperating in investigations to ensure that shoplifters are appropriately prosecuted and deterred from future offences.”

As the shoplifting crisis continues unabated, it remains to be seen whether authorities and businesses can collaborate on effective solutions to stem the tide of retail theft. For now, scenes like those at the West Drayton Tesco are becoming increasingly commonplace.

ASG Retail Security Solutions

ASG offers a range of specialised security services designed to help retailers combat theft, protect their assets, and ensure the safety of their employees and customers. With expertise in luxury retail, boutique stores, and large-scale retail environments, ASG develops bespoke security strategies aligned with each client’s unique needs and brand identity.

Services include:

– On-site security personnel trained in legal powers, use of force, and de-escalation techniques

– Loss prevention and asset protection, including security tags and controlled access to high-risk items

– CCTV monitoring and analytics to gather evidence and support prosecutions

– Access control and visitor management

– Risk assessments and security audits

– Emergency response and crisis management

– Close collaboration with law enforcement to ensure appropriate prosecution of shoplifters

You may be reviewing your security plans, looking to resolve a specific risk issue or just want to know what’s new in loss prevention. ASG’s interactive Coffee & Catch-Up is an opportunity to find out about the options and opportunities for the safety and security of your business this year – Email: or call 0208 543 6670

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