SHOPLIFTING in the Thames Valley has fallen, but the region still remains one of the worst areas for offences.

Figures collected by online retailer OnBuy reveal that Thames Valley Police (TVP) reported 16,673 incidents of shoplifting in 2017/18, a two per cent drop from last year.

However, the area has the fifth highest level of shoplifting in the country, behind Greater Manchester (17,445), West Yorkshire (18,491), West Midlands (19,851) and the Metropolitan Police area (46,840).

In total, 378,725 shoplifting incidents were reported to the 42 police constabularies in England and Wales; a four per cent increase from the previous year.

Cas Paton, Managing Director of commented: “The findings from this research are intriguing. With the overall number of shoplifting incidents increasing from the previous year, it’s a crime which is financially burdening retailers. It’s unfortunate because many owners spend a lot of time, money and energy ensuring all aspects of their operations are running effectively and efficiently. Whilst shoplifting may seem difficult to prevent, there are certain cost-effective precautions retailers can take to deter shoplifters from targeting them.

"Precautions such as training employees to identify the behaviours associated with shoplifters and appropriate signage to warn potential offenders about the seriousness of the matter."

A spokesman for TVP said: "Shoplifting offences within the Thames Valley will be investigated when there are reasonable lines of enquiry.

"We work closely with local businesses as how best to reduce the risk of shoplifting. Well trained and alert staff are the best way to prevent shoplifting. Teach your staff how to spot potential thieves and to report any suspicious behaviour to a senior member of staff immediately. 

"Make sure staff know what to do if they spot a suspect. Often making suspects aware that they have been noticed will be enough to stop them from carrying out the crime. Unwanted attention, such as asking them if they are ok or if they need any help can make them think again. 

"If a theft has already occurred staff should keep the suspect under observation and call the police for further help."