Shoppers in Muswell Hill have raised concerns about an alleged spate of “scary” shoplifting and anti-social behaviour incidents at one supermarket.

Ham & High has spoken to two people who claim to have seen staff being threatened at the Co-Op in Priory Road in recent months.

One man, who gave his name only as John, claimed he saw a group of boys attempting to push past a security guard after they were told they could not all come into the store at once.

John said: “I was let inside...but soon one of the boys forced his way in and squared up to the member of staff.  He put out his fists and egged the member of staff to have a fight with him.”

He added that an altercation then took place that resulted in “pieces of shop furniture being knocked over”.

Another woman – who did not wish to be named – claimed she saw a man stuffing his bag with washing powder before making off after he was confronted by a security guard.

She said: “The security guard came and accosted the guy who was doing the stealing – he had a hoodie on and a black mask on.

“And then it was…quite scary really, it was fairly brief but I did get worried that the security guard was going to get hurt. Then he [the shoplifter] got away and was out the shop.”

Both John and the other witness claimed these were not isolated incidents, but part of a wider problem with shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in the store.

The female witness told Ham & High: “There are so few…workers around because it’s all self-service and I think that’s the problem.

“People are always going to take opportunities to steal stuff and sometimes they’ve got reason for that.

“I’m more concerned about how systems are organised than individuals being caught.”

A spokesperson for Co-op said: “Crime in many communities is increasing, with known, repeat and prolific offenders predominantly driving the incidents of brazen theft which is an ongoing challenge for all retailers. 

“Co-op continues to invest significantly in keeping its colleagues and stores safe. While we are doing all we can, we also need police forces and those with the power to enforce consequences to ensure these criminals can no longer operate in communities without fear of being caught or charged.”