Police officer accused of shoplifting

Asda signPaul Faith/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Newspaper reports have claimed that Superintendent Rachel Adams, area commander of Medway for Kent Police, has been accused of taking £30 of goods from an Asda store near her home.

So what are the accusations, and why are we hearing so much about shoplifting cases at the moment?

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Reports

A report in The Telegraph claims that Adams was arrested at her home on the Kings Hill estate near West Malling, Kent. She is alleged to have taken the items on 27 August. Police interviewed her, but did not charge her.

A spokesman for Kent Police said: "On Monday, August 27, a 46-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of theft in Kings Hill. She was released on bail until October 11."
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Adams has temporarily stepped down from her role as vice-chairman of the Medway Community Safety Partnership.

It is far too early to know what took place in this incident, so no-one can pass comment on what happened, or why.

Shoplifting reports

However, it is one of a string of supermarket shoplifting cases in the news recently. So more generally, why is the rate increasing?

Part of the issue is to do with the introduction of self-service machines. Some of the incidents are genuine mistakes, and some are examples of criminals thinking they may be able to exploit weaknesses in the system - and getting a nasty surprise.

The rise is also partly because supermarkets are focusing on the bottom line and looking for ways to stop any kind of waste. Shoplifting is costing them a fortune, so according to the British Retail Consortium, they are spending more on security guards and CCTV.

Director General Stephen Robertson said: "Faced with soaring retail crime in recent years - boosted by the recession and insufficient action by the police and courts - retailers dug deeper into their own pockets and spent even more on crime prevention measures."

Then there is the fact that shoplifting has increased during the recession. The BRC says that while the number of crimes has gone down, the value of each one has gone up - so that shoplifting figures overall are increasing.

For all of these reasons, stories of shoplifting are unlikely to ease soon. In the current climate, we can expect stores to continue to come down hard on shoplifters, in the hope of stopping persistent offenders, and scaring off any would-be casual thief.

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Police officer accused of shoplifting

This takes time, but once you know the cost of a phone call, putting the dryer on, or a bag of potatoes, it enables you to judge far better how much you can afford to consume.

Once you know the base price, you are in a position to keep your eyes open for a better offer. If you see a discount you can judge for yourself whether it actually constitutes a bargain. For bigger things like utilities it enables you to do a proper price comparison and see if you can cut your bills.

Don't just assume that the premium range is better, try the every-day brand, or even the basic version and see if you spot the difference. Likewise, consider trading down your supermarket from one of the big players to local markets or discounters like Aldi.

If you plan what you buy to match what you actually cook and eat then not only will you be able to budget far more effectively, but you'll also waste much less and find your money goes further without you having to try.

If you can't think of a way to get your meat for less, consider a vegetarian day once a week. If you can't find petrol any cheaper, then work on making your driving as efficient as possible. The more you can think of clever alternatives the less you will have to make painful cuts to make ends meet.

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