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Brit businesses complain of shoplifting epidemic after police decide not to probe thefts under [pounds sterling]200; Furious shop owners have told Government ministers that they are being targeted by thieves because of the threshold.

Byline: Paul Hooper

A decision not to arrest shoplifters who swipe items worth less than [pounds sterling]200 is said to be fuelling a rise in stealing.

Britain's furious shop owners have told Government ministers that they are being targeted by thieves because of the threshold.

Most police forces no longer attend reports of routine shop theft and will only send an officer to investigate if thieves have mad threats of violence against staff.

Those caught stealing less than [pounds sterling]200 are now dealt with by post, in the same way as speeding motorists.

Retailers are believed to have held private meetings recently with the Home Office at which they warned that "prolific and persistent" offenders were now exploiting the rules.

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Official figures show that shoplifting is rising sharply, and shopkeepers believe that organised crime groups "knew how to exploit the system to their benefit".

The [pounds sterling]200 threshold was introduced in as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Act allows anyone accused of "low value shoplifting" to plead guilty by post, a move that was hoped would save courts time and money on cases.

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But one spokesperson for the retail trade said: "Many thieves, who have substance abuse problems, simply use shops and supermarkets like piggy banks.

"They will target things like meat, cheese and coffee that they can sell quickly and easily."

Shoplifting is estimated to cost the economy more than [pounds sterling]6 billion a year with official figures suggesting the number of reported offences has risen from just over 300,000 in 2012-13 to almost 370,000 last year.

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Credit: Getty Images Europe

Traders have complained shoplifting is on the rise as thieves look to exploit relaxed punishments

Credit: Photographer's Choice

Most police forces no longer attend reports of routine shop theft (file image)

Credit: EyeEm

Shop owners have told Government ministers that they are being targeted by thieves (file image)

Credit: Getty

The [pounds sterling]200 threshold was introduced in as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

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Title Annotation:News,UK News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 27, 2017
Words:378
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