The Co-op has turned to AI technology at self-checkouts and secure tills after a 44% rise in retail crime with grocery retailers reporting as many as 1,000 incidents a day, The Guardian reported.
The Co-op has launched 200 secure tills kiosks, locked cabinets for bottles of spirits and AI technology to monitor self-checkouts across its stores as it fights rising levels of shoplifting.
The retailer said undercover security guards detained 3,361 individuals in its stores in the UK last year for offences including burglary, abuse and harassment as physical assaults on its staff increased.
The Co-op has reported a 48% rise in shoplifting incidents to almost 298,000 after spending nearly £200m on new security measures, including additional guards and a roving undercover team targeting crime hotspots.
Matt Hood, managing director of Co-op Food, said: “This is not a few opportunistic shoplifters becoming more prolific. This is organised crime and looting.
“People who are really organised can only be stopped by custodial sentences and the police. We need it to have consequences,” he said.
“The thing that concerns me more than anything is that we have colleagues who won’t bother to report as they know they are not going to get a reaction.
“If you have detained somebody that has committed a crime and the police don’t turn up, you have to let them go. You can imagine how demotivating that is for people working in the shop and how motivating it is for shoplifters.”
Hood warned: “Unless these crimes become something police act on, this will continue. It has been proven in Scotland that if you make it a specific crime to attack a shopworker, incidents come down. We need that to happen in England.”