Paving stones, antique bayonets and a fridge freezer: Scale of shoplifting in Norfolk revealed

14:18 26 September 2014


Shoplifters in Norfolk have made off with more than 14,500 items from the county’s stores in the last four years.

Items stolen by shoplifters

An antique bayonet

Washing machine

Fridge Freezer



Wheel barrow

Paving stones

Shop sign from Charlie’s Tea Stall

Advertising board from Mid Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust

Bow (weapon)


Click here to view the graphic

Figures obtained by the EDP show that thieves are stealing hundreds of items a month from our shops.

The data reveals that dozens of charity shops are among the victims, with thieves even stealing collection boxes. And among staples such as clothes, food, alcohol and cosmetics, several more unusual items have found their way into the pockets of light-fingered customers.

Number of items shoplifted from Norfolk stores

Tesco - 1202

Boots - 891

Primark - 840

Tesco Express - 583

Asda - 581

Sainsbury’s - 571

Morrisons - 381

Debenhams - 364

Co-Op - 321

Roys - 299

They include a bayonet from Timeline Antiques in North Walsham, an advertising board from County School station in Dereham, and a shop sign from Charlie’s Tea Stall on Norwich market place.

Thieves have also been able to make off with hefty items ranging from fridge freezers to washing machines, ladders, filing cabinets, wheel barrows, a tree, bricks and at least two fireplaces.

With scores of stores across Norfolk, Tesco is perhaps unsurprisingly the chain that features the most in the list of stores targeted by shoplifters. More than 2,100 items were stolen from its supermarkets, petrol stations and convenience stores.

While chain stores took the brunt of shoplifters’ stealing, there were also a number of independent shops on the list.

Most popular items for shoplifters in the last four years in Norfolk

Alcohol - 2247

Clothing - 2022

Cosmetics - 1459

Food - 1061

Household Electricial - 435

CD/DVD - 288

Computer Equipment - 269

Jewellery - 266

Footwear - 253

Toys - 145

Other targets included City College in Norwich, which had cash taken in 2012, the University of East Anglia, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, which had food, drink and other items stolen.

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, said although shoplifting could sometimes appear to be a “faceless crime” against big businesses, it had a major impact on smaller businesses. “For me the bit that’s never understood is that it has an impact on businesses in terms of trading and viability.

“For small businesses, it can directly affect the number of staff they can employ and every time a theft happens it means they may have to make cuts,” he said.

Mr Gurney added that thieves tended to target smaller stores, where fewer staff made it easy for techniques such as “distraction theft” to be effective.

Once staff were distracted, shoplifters would then target smaller, high-value items such as jewellery, perfume and alcohol, according to Mr Gurney.

Norwich BID work with businesses to try to tackle shoplifting with the Alert Radio Scheme.

The scheme gives businesses access to a database of recent shoplifting and anti-social behaviour, including images from CCTV.

The stores approached by the EDP said they worked with local police to combat shoplifting.

A spokesman for Norfolk police said: “Norfolk Constabulary continues to work with town centre/city shops and CCTV throughout the county to reduce the number of shoplifting offences. Periodically operations are carried out to try to target such offences through high-visibility and covert patrols in a bid to disrupt shoplifters. We would like to remind everyone that shoplifting is a crime whatever the value of the item stolen and can result in a criminal conviction, which can have a serious impact on someone’s life.”

The figures were obtained by the EDP under a Freedom of Information request from Norfolk police.


The single store most shoplifted from in Norfolk was Primark in Haymarket, Norwich.

The budget clothing outlet saw 855 items, including clothing, jewellery, luggage and footwear, stolen from the city centre store.

Contributing factors to the high rate of shoplifting at the store include its location in the city centre and the fact it has entrances and exits at both ends of the store.

No one from the store was available to comment.


Charity shops were also unable to escape thieves’ attentions, with more than 20 being hit, including Age UK, Arthritis Research UK, Oxfam, Scope and a St Nicholas Hospice Shop.

Items stolen from the stores included clothing, jewellery, books, stationery and ornaments.

At least one charity collection box was also stolen, from KFC in Prince of Wales Road earlier this year.

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