Shoplifting increased by 25% last year following the end of lockdown last year to reach its highest level for eight years.
Police recorded 40,000 incidents in 2022, the most since 2015. Retail specialists said last year’s rapid inflation was partly to blame as people increasingly struggled to afford essential items.
‘We see a growth in the number of thefts across the board, it’s not a single group of thieves,’ Martijn Wildeboer of the Centre for Crime Prevention and Safety told FD.nl.
‘We think more people are getting into a constrained financial position, as a result of which they feel compelled to resort to theft,’ he said.
Shop owners say the figures are the tip of the iceberg because many small thefts go unreported, as the time and effort involved in reporting them to police is not worth it.
But around two-thirds of last year’s complaints came via a handling agency, Soda, which charges businesses €40 to take on the process of reporting shop thefts and recovering damages.
Soda’s founder, Arie van Os, said: ‘It’s a load of hassle for a bottle that costs €10 and they think the police won’t do anything anyway.’
The wider use of self-scan checkouts may have exacerbated the problem, as shoppers can easily slip extra items into their bags without paying, while the lockdown itself has eroded the relationship between staff and customers.
‘Stealing has got easier,’ Wildeboer said. ‘There are people who walk out with full trolleys without paying, sometimes helped by others who open the barrier for them.’
‘Staff had to enforce strict rules during the pandemic and things got totally out of hand,’ added Jacqueline Twerda of the CNV union. ‘That aggression still hasn’t completely gone away.
‘Some people get angry because a special offer is no longer valid, others because staff want to check their bags.’
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