Wednesday, 20 September 2023, 10:00
Supermarkets in Malaga province are ramping up security measures to prevent thefts as the cost for groceries continue to hit people's pockets.
SUR can reveal that security is no longer limited to just access points at supermarkets, but now, guards hired from private companies patrol aisles and monitor the checkout lines. In some cases, products on the shelves have even been security tagged, particularly bottles of olive oil which have seen high price hikes in the past year.
When questioned about the issue, workers and managers across various stores said that beefed up security measures allowed them to work with a greater peace of mind. "Many times they are at the entrance, others in the checkout area or walking through the aisles to give a sense of security," they said in a supermarket in Malaga city.
The decision to place alarms on olive oil bottles is also new, and a measure that the Día supermarket chain has adopted. According to its company policy, all products that exceed eight euros must be alarmed. "We have done it since there has been this significant price increase," said a worker. The five-litre containers currently cost 35.75 euros.
Maskom stores do not have permanent security, but they hire guards when they find that the number of "unknown losses" - as they call thefts -increase for no apparent reason. "If there is a small spike, we try to stop it by hiring security, as it is the only way," said Sergio Cuberos, general manager of the Malaga chain.
A total of 800 million euros a year is lost by stores due to theft, which represents 0.75% of total turnover, according to national data in Spain. The most common stolen products are sliced, especially hams and high-value cold meats, perfumes and alcoholic beverages. "These are products that can be easily hidden," Cuberos said. He added that they are not thefts committed out of desperation, but carried out by "specialised gangs".
General director of an Andalusian food and business confederation Alvaro Gonzalez Zafra, said supermarkets had few means to prevent thefts. "We find ourselves in a situation of great defenselessness with respect to multi-offenders; it is something we have denounced on many occasions." "It is not punished as it should be," he added.
More than 642,500 shoplifting thefts were recorded in Spain in 2022, representing a year-on-year growth of 30.2%, according to government data. The trend has continued this year, with an increase of 12% in the first quarter.
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