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Acts of theft have increased 41% in 10 years

Scotland has recorded its highest level of shoplifting in a decade, amounting to almost 40,000 offences in the past year.

According to the Recorded Crime in Scotland 2023-24 report, acts of theft have increased 41% in 10 years.

While shoplifting had been rising since 2014, it dipped in 2019 when the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions took hold.

Since 2021, however, shoplifting has been back on the rise. It increased by 35% to 38,674 incidents during 2023 and 2024.

The report also revealed shoplifting now accounts for 35% of crimes of dishonesty, making it the largest category within this crime group.

“It’s appalling that shoplifting has soared to a 10-year high,” said Scottish Retail Consortium David Lonsdale. 

“Despite record spending by retailers on crime prevention, the rate of thefts continues to rise. In fact, these figures won’t even capture the full picture as many thefts aren’t reported by retailers as they believe little action will be taken.

“Shoplifting isn’t a victimless crime. As these new figures show, shoplifting is the main factor behind abuse and threats towards shopworkers, and we know from member feedback that thieves are becoming bolder and more aggressive. The financial costs too are enormous and are ultimately borne by shoppers themselves, in some cases through higher prices on shop shelves.

“With a swathe of new mandated rules in the pipeline which may lead to more flashpoints in store, the SRC wants tackling crime against retailers to be made a greater priority by the authorities, including in the Scottish government’s Strategic Police Priorities, to ensure our retail destinations are made safer.”