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Tesco padlocks fridges to stop Champagne thieves

One Tesco supermarket in South London has padlocked its Champagne fridge in a bid to protect the fine French fizz from shoplifters.

The Champagne is in a padlocked fridge in the Purley store, although the Prosecco is still accessible.

The photos, taken by journalist Dominik Lemanski and published in the Mail on Sunday, show the fridge of a Tesco Extra in Purley padlocked shut. Inside are bottles of Veuve Clicquot (a bottle of the 2015 vintage is on display in the fridge, retailing at £67), Lanson, Moët & Chandon, Taittinger and Piper-Heidsieck. A sign reading “please ask a member of staff for assistance” indicates that the fridge containing the precious bottles has to be unlocked if any of them are to be purchased.

Premium spirits including most of the store’s extensive whisky selection, along with other spirits including Courvoisier, Grey Goose vodka, Patron, Haig Club and Jack Daniels are also behind a padlock.

The decision to place the Champagne under lock and key comes amid a new wave of shoplifting across the UK. According to data published on Statista, while recorded shoplifting offences in England and Wales in the last two decades peaked in 2017/18 with 382,649 offences, before then plummeting during the Covid-19 pandemic (228,154 in 2020/21), the figure is soaring up once more, with the 2022/23 figure at 342,343.

Precisely why shoplifting is on the rise is the subject of some debate. While it has been speculated by some that it is a response to the cost of living crisis, others suggest that, with police forces increasingly overstretched, the risk of punishment for stealing has gone down, emboldening criminals.

Regarding the latter point, British Independent Retailers Association CEO Andrew Goodacre said: “People aren’t just pinching one bottle and trying to secretly hide it in their coat, they’re just sweeping them all into a bag and walking out.”

Given its relative expense compared to other items in supermarkets, alcoholic drinks are among the most commonly shoplifted items, alongside meat, cheese and razor blades – Champagne in particular is often targeted due to its premium reputation. Given how nationwide the problem is, it might not be long before Champagne fridges at supermarkets across the UK are given an extra layer of security.

The whisky and premium spirits range is also in a padlocked fridge

Related reading:

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