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Hungry Lancashire families shoplifting food to survive
DESPERATE families are being ‘forced’ to steal food as they are on the brink of poverty.
The shock warning comes as Lancashire's top cop said there had been a ‘spike’ in shoplifting cases where thieves had taken grocery items.
The rise has also been noticed by shop owners and food banks, who said people were reaching ‘crisis point’.
Chief Constable Steve Finnigan said: “With regards shoplifting, we are seeing an increase.
“The offenders are very often first-time offenders and when you talk to them, they are not doing this to sell stuff on.
“The stuff they talk about is food stuff.
“It is very often meat and cheese they are stealing and it is for themselves and their family.”
Lancashire Police said it was unable to provide statistics, but officers were reporting a month-on-month increase in this type of shoplifting.
Ros Duerden, from Blackburn Food Bank, said people were turning to crime because they were to ‘ashamed’ to admit they needed help.
She said: “A question at the back of our minds when we are deciding whether or not to issue vouchers is whether people are going to be pushed into shoplifting.
“For some people it is also an issue of shame.
“They do not want to come to a food bank and they will not necessarily ask for help.
“They would rather go shoplifting because they think they can do that in secret.”
Cases that have passed through magistrates’ courts in the past few months include a 27-year-old Blackburn woman, who stole a Greggs tuna baguette worth £1.85, a Burnley man who took joints of meat from an ASDA store and a 60-year-old man from Accrington who stole instant mash and cheese from Iceland worth just £4.
Coun Eileen Ansar, who volunteers with the food bank in Pendle, said: “People are getting so desperate that they are turning to crime.
“You cannot blame them, all they want to do is feed their children.
“It is a sorry state and there is a crisis.
“This situation is turning us back to the ‘50s and ‘60s.”
Ken Kay, manager of The Kay Group, which runs 12 garages and service stations across the North West, including in Blackburn, Bacup, Burnley and Darwen said: “We have a constant issue and there are people who need to steal to keep going.”
Jatinder Sirpal, manager of the Gill Off-licence, in Pelham Road, Blackburn, said he was having to think of new measures to crack down on shoplifting.
He said: “Sometime people take things and run away.
“We used to keep the door open, but now we close it because they could do it very easily.
“Sometimes they take chocolate or a packet of crisps and we do see more of it now.
“The big problem is people are struggling with money and I think it is very sad.
“People have got no money and so they are forced into taking like this. It is very bad.”
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