Unsolved Shoplifting Cases Hit Five-Year High, Spark ‘Crime Epidemic’ Outcry

LONDON, England – Shoplifting cases have reached a five-year high, sparking concerns about a “crime epidemic” in the country. According to Home Office data analyzed by the Liberal Democrats, over 200,000 reports of shoplifting went unsolved in the year ending July 2023, averaging 560 cases a day. This marks a significant increase of one-third compared to the previous year and the highest point in the past five years.

The increase in unsolved shoplifting cases has alarmed retail bosses, who claim that the offense has essentially been decriminalized. Police chiefs have resisted government demands to respond to every report, citing logistical challenges. Some store owners have resorted to hiring private security to protect their businesses.

Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, has accused the government of failing to address the growing crime problem. He pointed out that the reduction of 4,000 community support officers since 2015 has further exacerbated the situation. Additionally, just 15 percent of shoplifting cases in the last year have resulted in a suspect being charged or summoned, down from 19 percent in 2019.

Chris Philp, the policing minister, recently announced measures to address the issue, including the establishment of a new police team to crack down on shoplifting with £30,000 of government funding. Critics, however, argue that this funding is insufficient, amounting to only 7p per offense. Separately, the Labour Party’s analysis revealed that out of 1.7 million crimes reported last year, 1.6 million went unsolved, primarily due to police failing to find a suspect.

The government’s decision to downgrade thefts of goods worth less than £200 to a summary offense has also come under scrutiny. Critics argue that this effectively gives thieves a green light and contributes to the surge in shoplifting. Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, emphasized the need for the recruitment of more detectives to address the shortfall of experienced officers.

The rise in unsolved shoplifting cases presents a concerning trend, raising questions about the effectiveness of current law enforcement strategies to combat this issue. As communities grapple with the impact of increased crime rates, there is a growing urgency for authorities to take concrete measures to address the root causes and prevent further escalation of criminal activities.