Police tell stores to hire more security guards to tackle shoplifting wave

Food shopping.
Food shopping. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Police have advised stores to hire more security guards after a reported more than 50 percent on-year increase in shoplifting offenses across Estonia. The cause is suspected to be rising prices.

The majority of thefts are of food and basic necessities from grocery stores, the Police have said.

"I think one of the factors is definitely the rise in prices, which has then led to a situation where people either don't have the money anymore to buy food or to buy basic necessities," said Kaja Hunt, from Ida-Harju Police Station, told Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Supermarket chain Selver's internal control manager Katrin Kuusk said: "Rather, people still steal and are taken advantage of by resellers. The black market is pretty big and their counters are full of our goods." 

"These thieves' shopping baskets have become very large, so while they used to steal two bottles of vodka and something else, now they take 20 chocolate [bars], 20 boxes of candy, and 10 [tins] of caviar in one basket," she said

The amount of stolen goods is thought to total tens of thousands of euros every month.

In some stores, such as Selver, crimes are usually committed at self-service checkouts.

"Paying for goods is left to your own conscience. They can pay for all the goods, or pay for part of the goods, or don't pay at all," said Kuusk.

Police open criminal proceedings if the goods stolen amount to more than €200.

In the electronics chain Euronics, thieves know how to take advantage.

"We're very clearly seeing a trend where some particular individuals who want to steal things will come and try to steal up to the amount of €199.99. Most of the time it's small headphones, portable audio devices, cables, accessories, that's the most popular category," said Euronics' Customer Solutions and Quality Manager Andrei Fyodorov.

Thefts from the chain have risen by up to a third.

Police are recommending that stores hire more security personnel and that they are positioned near the most frequently stolen products.

Shoplifting accounted for two-thirds of reported thefts in the first half of 2023, data from the Ministry of Justice shows.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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