One of Banbury’s best-known independent retailers has had to make a drastic change to its efforts to attract custom, following a rise in shoplifting.
Betts Butchers in Church Lane has been supplying the residents of Banbury since 1988.
It has survived numerous ups and downs during the last 28 years but is now under attack almost daily by shoplifters trying to steal high value cuts of meat.
Adrian Luke, manager of the butchers for the last ten years and employee for 25, said: “Its becoming a daily occurrence where we’re either catching shoplifters, we’re probably missing more than we’re catching.
“Yesterday the lady across the road happened to see one in the afternoon.
“She shouted at him, he dropped the bag and ran and there was sixty quids worth of meat in that bag.
“When we looked at the CCTV cameras it was his second visit in about ten minutes. The first time we didn’t see him.”
The rate of thefts and theft attempts has become so bad Mr Luke has had to make significant changes to the shop.
He said: “We had to strip all the shop out, move all the cabinets around and take our main selling cabinet from out the front and bring it into the shop.”
This measure will hopefully reduce the amount of meat being taken from the shop but it is having some unforeseen consequences.
Mr Luke said: “Because it is not out there where people can see it, it’s affected trade and if you ask any independent trader in Banbury at the moment, trade is difficult.”
The butchers have reported suspected thefts from the shop to the police but it has proved a persistent problem - and they fear they are not alone. Mr Luke said: “Once or twice we’ve contacted the police and I think they’ve prosecuted a couple of times.”
Neil Wild, Banbury town team co-ordinator, said: “Shop lifting sadly happens in all towns but with the CCTV system run by retailers and CDC as well as shop watch and a vigilant public we have a good chance of assisting the police apprehend those that try and take advantage.”
Mr Luke has even toyed with the idea of employing a security guard during peak periods.
Mr Luke said: “It’s not good for Banbury, it’s not good for anyone and I’m quite sure we’re not the only ones it’s happening to.”