The crime figures given to councillors contained one worrying spike - a big rise in shoplifting. Why is it happening, and what is being done to target the criminals?
Shoplifting in Kirkcaldy has increased with the majority of the thefts being committed by known drug users who are stealing to feed their drug habits.
That was the finding of a new police report which shows a worrying rise iof 9.1 per cent - while the detection rate has also slipped by 0.9 per cent.
Goods are being stolen to order and then sold on - and drugs lie at the root of the problem which is costing businesses thousands of £s.
Nicola Shepherd, Kirkcaldy’s Chief Inspector, told The Press this type of crime is one her officers have been monitoring closely giving the rising figures.
She put it down to drugs rather than people hitting hard times during the recession.
The majority of those we do see shoplifting are known drug users and are stealing to feed their drug habitsChief Inspector Nicola Shepherd
She said: “The patterns are not indicative of people falling on hard times ‘per se’. The items we see being stolen are in the main alcohol and joints of meat.
“These items are being stolen and then re-sold around our communities.
‘‘We know that from speaking to those responsible that they are not stealing the items to keep for themselves, but they are stealing them for re-sale.
“The majority of those we do see shoplifting are known drug users and are stealing to feed their drug habits.”
But she pointed out it isn’t just Kirkcaldy - figures for shoplifting are increasing across all areas.
The chief inspector continued: “I don’t have the answer as to why that is but it’s the one crime where the property is obviously readily accessible and despite most premises having CCTV, there are very few deterrents as most premises do not have security staff.
“We have established a retail crime unit, based at Kirkcaldy Police Station, to provide a presence in and around frequently targeted premises and we always look to ensure that those caught are prevented from re-entering these premises through the request of bail orders from the court on conviction.
“We have a good relationship with traders in Kirkcaldy and have always had a presence in the High Street.
‘‘But the crimes are not all committed in the High Street. We are in the process of working with Asda to create a static police hub outside their premises.
“We have also been hosting drop-ins and community engagement events in Sainsbury’s at the retail park.”
We need tougher action say businesses
Local traders and business owners have raised concerns about the increase in shoplifting in Kirkcaldy, with some calling for tougher measures to combat the problem.
Stephen Roberts, manager of the Mercat Centre, said: “Shoplifting is a concern all over the country and not specific to Kirkcaldy.
“We have not received reports of any significant increase, however we are extremely proactive in this area, especially in terms of our excellent security team who have a number of aids at their disposal, these include, CCTV, radio and the Alert Town Centre `Shop Safe System`.
‘‘We also have a very good relationship with the police.”
Fiona Smith, manager of British Homes Stores, said: “It is a huge problem in Kirkcaldy.
‘‘I don’t think it’s given the authority it needs.
“We don’t have police in the High Street seven days or even five days a week.
‘‘If they are here they get called up to the central retail park. It’s absolutely rife and tougher measures are needed.”
Julie Martin-Davy, owner of new business Present Purrfections, said: “As a small business this increase does concern me, we do not have a budget for any losses from theft like larger retailers do.
‘‘We have a zero tolerance policy towards shoplifters. Measures we have in place include CCTV monitoring and good staff training.”
A spokeswoman for Asda said: “We take shoplifting very seriously and are doing all we can, including working with the local police.
‘‘We have welcomed over three million shoppers to our Kirkcaldy store over the past two years, yet instances of shoplifting are minimal. We take the matter extremely seriously.”