Shoplifting is having a ‘devastating impact’ on Sheffield businesses – with daily thefts ranging in value from just 10p to £15,000.
As police today released a rogues gallery of 16 wanted shoplifters, The Star can reveal 11 thefts a day are reported from city shops.
The toll represents an increase of 18 per cent in five years, to 4,211 between April 2013 and this March.
A total of 19,642 thefts from shops was reported to South Yorkshire Police in the five years since April 2009.
The most high value item stolen from a Sheffield shop in the last five years was a £15,760 gentleman’s watch. Other hauls included £11,000 of jewellery and 47 iPods worth £5,000.
Yet the lowest-value items include a 10p shopping bag, and just 20p worth of sweets.
Sheffield city centre was a hotspot for the crime, with almost 5,000 shop thefts reported in the past five years.
Meadowhall came in second with 2,299, and shops in Handsworth third with 1,110.
Retailers said one of the biggest problems is thieves fuelled by drink or drugs.
Paul Brown, co-owner of Moor Rugs and nearby Moor Bargains, said: “It’s the same old faces doing it. When they are off their faces, they come in and try to take anything.”
Andrew Wroe, manager at Poundland on The Moor, said: “We have caught people with £1,900 of items they’ve tried to steal. But our takings pay our wages and staff and, if we have less money, we can’t have as many staff.”
Paul Knott, owner of One Stop Games Shop on The Moor, said: “I’m not surprised by the figures. With the economy the way it is, people are struggling to make ends meet.
“But when they do go to court, they only get a slap on the wrist.
“I don’t know what the answer is, unless the courts are a bit harsher.”
But shop owners praised the work of South Yorkshire Police and city centre management officers in trying to tackle the problem.
Police Inspector Mark Payling, who heads Sheffield’s city centre Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime.
“It can have a devastating impact on a business owner, particularly if they run a small, local company.”