Shoplifters stealing '£4,000' of goods a week from Hampstead M&S as staff fight to stop thieves
PUBLISHED: 13:24 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:21 29 October 2019
Staff from the Marks & Spencers Foodhall near the Royal Free Hospital are "tussling" with shoplifters as there's concerns that £4,000 of stock a week is being stolen.
Susan West, who chairs the Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood Panel, told a meeting that she saw a fracas between a shoplifter and three members of staff outside the Pond Street store on October 8.
She told the panel on Thursday night at Hampstead Community Centre: "I witnessed an unbelievable incident the other week. I saw the guy running out with a basket full of stuff. Three guys ran after him and were tussling with him to get it out of his hands. This went on for quite a few minutes, it was quite a frightening situation.
"If he had a knife, it would have been another fatality. Or if there had been an elderly personthey could have been pushed over as the guy was trying to get away."
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She added: "I've heard so many concerning details from people. There's reports that someone went in with a wheely suitcase and filled it up with stock, before wheeling it out again."
The meeting heard from Ms West that the store is losing £4,000 worth of products a week due to theft and high-value meat products are usually targeted. When contacted by this newspaper, M&S refused to comment, saying it did not share the information publicly.
The panel's chair also said she was concerned that the store does not report or properly account for thefts, which in turn affects Metropolitan Police statistics and the resources allocated to a each ward in the borough. M&S said it does report thefts to police.
PCSO Anthony Alexis confirmed the incident in early October had been reported and said he had visited the store to give the manager crime prevention advice. Ms West has also written to the company's chief executive asking for them to ensure there is CCTV and security guards at the branch.
An M&S spokesperson said the company didn't comment on anti-theft tactics at the store.
They added: "We appreciate local concerns around shoplifting, because like all retailers we do experience theft, but our teams work hard to minimise it whilst offering a great in-store experience. We continue to work closely with the police and the wider community to prevent and report any occurrences at our Hampstead store."