October 19, 2008 / 11:12 PM / 11 years ago

Sign of the times? UK retailers security tag meat

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Some British shops are security tagging choice pieces of meat in anticipation of increased shoplifting as a result of the worldwide financial crisis.

“Retailers are preparing for a rapid rise in offences and are adapting crime prevention methods, for example placing electronic security tags on expensive cuts of meat,” said the director general of the British Retail Consortium.

“Day and night, seven days a week, someone steals from a shop every 90 seconds,” Stephen Robertson said on Monday.

The food tags work in much the same way security tags operate on other items, like clothes and electronic goods. Exit a shop without paying for that prime rib and an alarm goes off.

“It’s (the tagging) an indication retailers are experiencing thefts and are nervous about customers being hard up,” added a BRC spokesman, who said he had heard of some supermarkets even tagging frozen poultry.

Shoplifting is the biggest crime cost for retailers, accounting for 64 percent of their losses, with burglary responsible for 16 percent, robberies eight percent and employee theft eight percent.

Last year shoplifting offences in Britain fell by just over a quarter, but the BRC fears the global financial crisis will put a stop to that fall.

“The credit crunch threatens to bring an abrupt end to this trend,” Robertson said in a statement.

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Matthew Jones

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