SHOPLIFTING is up in all five areas covered by Gwent Police, new data shows.

The force recorded an increase of 37 per cent in shoplifting offences in the year ending June 2023, up by more than a third on the year before.

The worst changes in Wales were in Newport and Torfaen where officers marked 45 and 48 per cent increases respectively. Neath Port Talbot was the only local authority area which reported a decrease.

It means that, in Newport and Torfaen, there were nearly three shoplifting offences in the year ending June 2023 for every two offences in the year before.

Dean Carbin, who co-owns New Pastures Home, says shoplifting has been at the “forefront” of their thinking in their first three weeks on Commercial Street.

South Wales Argus: Dean Carbin

“We have a personal walkie talkie system, as well as internal and external CCTV. And we always make sure there’s someone else in the store just in case,” he said.

The business, which recently relocated from Friars Walk, is part of the information-sharing scheme Newport Businesses against Crime (NBaC).

“We are as safe as we can be and that’s because we know the situation we’re in," said Mr Carbin.

“It’s always at the forefront of our minds. We would love to be more relaxed but shoplifting is a concern, and we are on top of it.

“Being a small business, if we don’t make this central to our thinking, then it’s our livelihoods at risk. We are determined not to let anyone take advantage.”

A long-time employee at phone repair shop Case Up, also on Commercial Street, says the problem has been markedly worse since Covid.

The worker, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve caught a couple myself. We’ve had lots in here, mostly homeless people.

South Wales Argus: Case Up

“They take the accessories at the front of the shop and cables. Someone even managed to open our locked cabinet.

“They get caught, and then the next day they’re back. The card shop next door is the same. It’s not been going well, the past few years.”

Dean Willis, of Friars Fruits, feels his business has avoided the brunt of the crime.

“It’s more compact in here, so we can see what’s going on. It’s also not high value stuff that we’re selling,” he said.

South Wales Argus: Friars Fruits

“Other businesses get a lot of trouble. Iceland staff stop people all the time. I go to M&S and they are always telling me stories.

“With us, once we catch them, they don’t come back. In other places, that isn’t the case.”

Bethan Lewis, 37, recalls two shoplifting incidents at The Vape Escape. She said: “It’s mostly underaged kids.

“We had one where a group of boys tried to intimidate a staff member, and another where a girl ran behind the counter and snatched stuff.

South Wales Argus: Bethan Lewis

“There used to be more ambassadors and PCSOs chasing people, but there are more officers now – and police cars coming down the street.

“We don’t see a lot of shoplifting here, luckily, because our shop is small.

“I suppose people are struggling with the cost of everything now. Everything is more expensive. It’s tough, but we shouldn’t resort to stealing.”

Gwent Police chief superintendent Carl Williams says the force remains committed to ensuring the region is "among the safest to live and work in Wales".

“Theft, and particularly shoplifting, is not a victimless crime and can have a real impact on our communities, both on individuals and businesses," he said.

“We’re taking positive steps to reduce acquisitive crime across Gwent with initiatives such as We Don’t Buy Crime, which also works closely with local businesses. Officers from across the service recently took part in Safer Business Action Week, a National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) campaign aiming to protect local businesses from crime.

“As part of the initiative, officers from across the five local authority areas hosted a range of sessions with businesspeople to discuss the steps they can take to deter thieves, protecting their employees and premises from criminals and develop long-term solutions to combat issues affecting them.

“Officers from our neighbourhood teams also work to reunite people with their possessions and seek to bring those responsible for offences before the courts.

“We remain committed to making sure Gwent continues to be among the safest places to live and work in Wales. Shoplifting has risen nationally and, while our service is no exception, the numbers in Gwent remain low."