Co-op stores have lined their shelves with empty Ferrero Rocher “dummy” boxes in their latest attempt to deter shoplifters.
This came just weeks after the British supermarket displayed half-empty ketchup bottles and locked up other household items such as coffee, honey and meat – with some packs worth as little as £3.75.
Shoppers looking for chocolate treats must now take the dummy packs to the checkout where they will be exchanged for the real thing amid a shoplifting epidemic that has hit the country.
This is despite the high-end treat being marketed for just £7.35 in the high street – where Lindt and Thorntons chocolates have also been locked away.
You can see the empty plastic boxes with part of the familiar gold packaging – and a sticker with the inscription: “Anti-theft display boxes”.
Shoppers looking for chocolate treats must now bring the dummy packs to the checkout, where they will be exchanged for the original pack
This is despite the high-end treat being marketed for just £7.35 in the high street – where Lindt and Thorntons chocolates have also been locked away
Other products that use dummy packaging include coffee, higher quality chocolate, washing powder and laundry gel
The dummy packaging will be used in higher risk stores, while body cameras for staff (pictured) and GPS-tracked security cases will be used for higher value items
The description states: “Please add the empty box to your cart and we will exchange it at checkout.”
The dummy packaging is used in higher-risk stores, while body cameras and employees and GPS-tracked security cases are used for higher-value items.
Other products that use dummy packaging include coffee, higher quality chocolate, washing powder and laundry gel.
This measure is intended to curb large-scale shoplifting, where products are swept off shelves by criminals and into bags or even trash cans.
It comes just weeks after the supermarket warned there would be almost 1,000 incidents every day in the six months to June 2023 – a rise of more than a third compared to last year.
And police fail to respond to almost three-quarters of retail crime – a shocking information request from the company has revealed.
In a strongly worded post on its website, the company said: “Criminals have the “freedom to plunder” as out-of-control crime is largely committed by repeat and repeat offenders, drug or alcohol addicts and local organized criminals have gangs. are among the main causes of crime.”
Kate Graham, Co-op’s head of operations, added: “Crime is on the rise in many communities and repeat and frequent offenders, as well as local organized crime gangs, are known to be responsible for serious incidents of brazen and violent thefts in shops.”
Co-operative store at Manor House in north London, where a spate of thefts led to the store locking products in plastic security boxes
Ferrero Rocher was packaged in plastic safety boxes along with a number of other products
Instant coffee was also packaged in secure containers to keep shoplifters away
Branded honey was also kept under lock and key at the supermarket chain, despite being priced at just £3.70
“It is an ongoing challenge for all retailers and is often a flashpoint for attacks and insults towards our colleagues.”
“The Co-op continues to invest significantly in the safety of colleagues and stores.” This includes expanding our use of mock display cases to prevent incidents of “shoplifting” or “looting”, as it has been described, where criminals steal products sweep them off the shelves to resell them.
“While we do everything we can, we also need police to play their part, as too often emergency services fail to respond to desperate calls from our branch teams and criminals operate in communities without fear of consequences.”
This comes as rampant inflation has increased the price of a typical weekly family store by more than a third in just two years.
An analysis of official statistics by the Liberal Democrats suggests that prices for a variety of staple foods have risen by 37 percent since summer 2021.
Chairman Sir Ed Davey said the increases would add around £870 a year to a family’s food bill and accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of being “on duty” while people suffer from “skyrocketing” food prices.
The party’s price comparison is based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and examines 16 items, including ground beef, tea and coffee, butter, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, oranges and bananas.
In May, a co-op store put mock coffee on its shelves and attached safety trackers to jars as product prices soared amid the cost of living crisis.
Staff at a franchise branch in north-east London put display jars of coffee on the shelves after the price of a 200g jar of Kenco Smooth instant coffee rose by 13 per cent.
Nescafe Gold Blend has also been taken off shelves after it rose to £9.35, locals claim, pointing out that the safety measures are “heartbreaking” and a “sign of the times”.
Staff at a store in Walthamstow placed a note on shelves that once stocked instant coffee that said: “This product is a dummy, not for sale, please ask a staff member for help.”