Spain's Malaga Sees Large Rise in Shoplifting

Spain's Malaga Sees Large Rise in Shoplifting

Rising Theft in Malaga Supermarkets Amid Inflation and Soaring Food Prices

With rising food prices and inflation, shoplifting incidents are on the rise across Malaga province, targeting products such as olive oil, luxury meats, spirits, and suntan lotions.

Every day, shoplifters are at work in supermarkets, slipping high-value items into bags and leaving without paying. Supermarkets have long anticipated theft, including provisions for such losses in their budgets. However, the recent economic pressures have forced stores to ramp up security measures to curb the increasing theft rates.

Security Measures Intensified

A SUR investigator conducted a tour of various supermarkets in Malaga city, interviewing managers about the current situation. It was revealed that security measures previously deemed exceptional, such as security guards and entry/exit barriers, are now commonplace. These measures, once limited to stores in high-theft areas, have now spread to supermarkets across the city.

The range of products equipped with security tags has also expanded. Once primarily used for expensive alcohol and perfumes, security tags are now found on olive oil and seasonal goods like suntan lotions.

The Financial Impact

According to the Retail Theft Barometer by NIQ, shoplifting costs supermarkets across Spain more than 2.2 billion euros annually. The trend is rising, with Sergio Cuberos, president of Maskom supermarkets, confirming a significant increase in thefts. "Thefts have clearly increased in recent times. In percentage terms, I could almost say that they have doubled," he said.

To counter the surge in shoplifting, Maskom has implemented measures such as employing security guards and installing barriers at supermarket entrances and exits. These measures aim to prevent shoplifters from escaping with stolen goods.

Most Stolen Items

A study by STC Neda highlights the top stolen products in each region of Spain. In Andalucía, the most commonly stolen items are olive oil, Iberian meat products, alcoholic drinks, shaving products, and large tins of tuna. The rise in olive oil theft is a recent development, driven by soaring prices, which have led to security tagging of oil bottles and carafes as prices reach around ten euros per litre.

Retail distribution representatives in Malaga identified sliced, packaged cured meats, perfumes, and alcoholic beverages as the most frequently stolen items. These products are easily concealed, particularly during winter when heavy clothing provides more hiding places.

Aurelio Martín, president of Costasol de Hipermercados, which operates several Carrefour stores in the province, noted a significant increase in shoplifting. "There are products that we have had to tag with alarms because they fly, such as suntan lotions," he said. Security guards have become essential, with either guards or store staff monitoring customers closely.

Organized Gangs

According to the STC Neda study, shoplifters are often organized gangs aiming to resell stolen goods. These repeat offenders target high-value items, fencing them to bars and restaurants in the province.

Under Spanish law, stealing items worth less than 400 euros is considered petty theft. The Association of Manufacturers and Distributors (Aecoc) is pushing for the elimination of this 400-euro threshold to impose harsher penalties on repeat offenders. Aecoc argues that 90% of thefts are valued at under 90 euros, yet shoplifting has increased by 12% in the first quarter of this year.

Call for Legal Reform

Aecoc advocates for a law that prioritizes stricter punishment for repeat offenders, regardless of the theft value, to reduce shoplifting incidents. By addressing the economic impact of repeat petty thefts, the association hopes to alleviate the burden on retailers and curb the rising trend of shoplifting.

As supermarkets in Malaga and across Spain continue to grapple with the dual challenges of rising costs and increasing theft, enhanced security measures and potential legal reforms remain critical to safeguarding their operations.

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