Tesco 'vetting' customers on CCTV over shoplifting

Man waiting to enter Tesco store on North Street in Southville
Shoppers wait outside the store whenever a security guard is not working, staff say [BBC]

A Tesco Express store is checking customers on CCTV before they are allowed in, after an increase in shoplifting over the past 12 months.

Staff at the Southville branch in Bristol say they keep the doors locked at certain times until shoppers can be viewed on cameras to see if they are suspected thieves.

One shop assistant, who did not want to be named, said managers were forced to roll out the remote-control Door Access System when security guards are not working, usually first thing in the morning and late at night.

Shoplifters have been targeting baby formula, meat and other household items - and the crime has soared over the past year, they added.

"We have to use it [the Door Access System] every day now," she told BBC Bristol.

"Thefts have gone up by so much. They steal anything they can get their hands on. They wait around the corner for our security guard to take a break and then run in.

"They steal baby milk, ham, chicken, olive oil. It's sad for the other customers."

When asked if she felt unsafe working at night, she said: "You get used to it but it's not ideal."

Poster on window near door entrance to pub
A nearby pub has also warned shoplifters not to enter [BBC]

Baskets have to be kept near the store's till area rather than by the door after "thieves kept filling them up then running out", the staff member said.

Under the new system, when shoppers arrive outside, an alarm goes off to alert staff. They then view the customer on CCTV before letting them in.

Tesco is not the only business on North Street taking action against shoplifters.

Staffords Launderette, a short walk away, has a poster of man managers want to track down, and pinned to the window of the nearby Masonic Pub's window is a sign reading "No shoplifters allowed on these premises".

Tesco declined to comment on the Southville store specifically but told the BBC it introduced its remote-control Door Access System a few years ago at some Express stores across the UK.

'Focus on prolific offenders'

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: "Our neighbourhood team is working closely with businesses to provide security advice and encourage reporting to identify those responsible for these crimes.

“There has been a nationwide increase in reported shoplifting offences, and that is reflected across Avon and Somerset.

"We're encouraged by a recent increase in reporting, as we know the previously shop theft has been significantly under-reported.

“While we have to prioritise all calls based on the level of threat, harm and risk, any incident in which there has been violence or a suspect remains on the scene will be prioritised.

“We're working to make it easier to report online and upload CCTV and the statements necessary to support our investigations in a timely way, and a new team within our Incident Assessment Unit is now focused on prolific offenders."

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