Butter, not expensive alcohol. A noticeable change in the shoplifting pattern

Luc Williams

According to data from the Police Headquarters, over 40,000 were found in 2023. shoplifting crimes. This means an increase of 22.2%. compared to 2022, and comparing the data with those from 2021, an increase of over 60% is visible.

Another group seizes property

In 2023, 278.5 thousand were diagnosed. shoplifting offenses. That’s 16.9 percent. more than in 2022, and in relation to 2021 there is already an increase of 45.4%. From October 2023, theft of goods worth up to PLN 800 is a misdemeanor, above this level it is a crime. Previously, the limit was PLN 500.

The president of the Polish Association of Employers Ochrona, Paweł Korzybski, said in an interview with PAP that a significant change in the theft model has been noticeable recently – for the last two years, or even year to year.

“It used to be selected products, e.g. expensive alcohol, perfumes or chocolates. And now there is more and more theft of basic products such as butter and dairy products. This indicates a completely different group taking property or stealing from a shop,” he added.

He added that in the past these were mostly people in their twenties to forties, but now it is more and more often seen that thefts can be committed by older or very young people.

Increased inflation, impoverishment of society, increase in prices

According to the president, there are several reasons for this change, the most important of which include: increased inflation, impoverishment of society, price increases and an increase in the minimum wage, which also translates into the costs of the price offered for the security service in the store.

“Another element that contributes to the growing trend in shoplifting is that the market limits security personnel in favor of electronics, which are not always understood in the right way. These can be self-service checkouts, which are now quite a major theft model, involving rebranding of products. The analytics itself, which is located in the cameras, can rather determine the occurrence of an incident, but it will not react on its own. If there is no employee on site or cooperation with store employees, no one will intervene,” Korzybski said.

The president’s task is to introduce statutory changes that raise the threshold between a misdemeanor and a crime in theft from PLN 500 to PLN 800 and also contribute to the increase in the number of cases.

“Groups specializing in theft often do the so-called research, i.e. they enter a store and steal something of a smaller value and check whether there is a security employee or a store detective. If there is no intervention, the attacker comes back and can take a much larger amount of these products,” Korzybski said.

The number of theft cases committed by “random” people is increasing

He added that shoplifters will always be interested in products that can be easily resold and disposed of quickly. “As long as there is demand for such products among people who do not wonder what the origin of the products they buy is, this practice will continue,” said the president.

He pointed out that the number of cases of theft committed by “accidental” people who do not specialize in such acts is increasing.

“These are random people who could have been tempted by their life situation to steal. So far, there have been no products such as butter, cheese, or dairy products that were subject to an increase in theft. In the last year, basic products appeared very high in the statistics,” said Korzybski.

He emphasized that the statistics are higher in practice because they do not include all actual shoplifting, as many stores do not report them to the police for various reasons and include stolen products in their costs.

“If the market moves towards reducing the scope of protection by eliminating security staff in favor of self-service checkouts, analytics, and other solutions, such as securing goods with stickers that will only signal the removal of such a product. This increasing trend of shoplifting may continue,” summed up Paweł Korzybski, president of the Polish Association of Employers – Ochrona.

author: Roman Skiba


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