Shoplifting offences in England and Wales have soared to the highest level in more than two decades.
Some 402,482 offences were recorded by police in the year to September 2023 – the first time it risen above pre-pandemic levels, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
That is up by almost a third (32%) on the previous 12 months, when 304,459 offences were recorded.
The previous peak of 382,643 was recorded in the year to March 2018.
The ONS found there was a “mixed picture of crime” but pointed to a “notable increase in some theft offences, including shoplifting”.
There was also a rise in the thefts of motor vehicles, the data showed.
It follows concerns by major retailers over the rising cost of theft.
Co-op’s food business lost £33m in just six months last year as shoplifting cases surged, with executives warning how shop looting perpetuated by prolific offenders and organised criminal gangs “is becoming genuinely one of the most significant issues facing UK communities”.