A branch of Next in the West Midlands has become the first known store in the UK to actually catch a shoplifter after he set of the security barriers at the store's front door. The barriers, which have been in place since 1994, were originally installed to warn staff they had left the security tag on innocent shoppers' purchases.
'We were as shocked as you are' Store Manager Helen Barber told us. 'The man walked though door and set off the alarms. As I approached him, he pulled out a pair of jeans and said 'you got me'. At first I was confused and told him to come to the tills where I would remove the tag so he could get on with his day. I think this then made him as confused as I was, but luckily he was a career criminal so knew exactly what to do. He gave me the number for the local police and even offered to call them for us.'
Since the arrest, the company have announced they are seeing a rise in the capture of shoplifters. Their Asset Protection Manager told us, 'The barriers still do a great job of making innocent people feel guilty but now we have realised they can actually help catch thieves. We have apprehended a further 24 people, including one who was trying to steal security tags'. It is believed that other high street retailers are now planning to use the barriers as a crime prevention tool as well as an advertising board. The Security Manager for Boots told us 'We have found the barriers to be a great place to let our customers know about the latest anti-ageing cream, now they will stop you nicking it,'
We spoke to one man who was cautioned for theft after he was caught out by the newly vigilant staff at Next's Central London store. He told us he had been visiting the store every day for about 4 years and that it had become a bit of a running joke with the staff that they never take the tags off his clothes. 'They would come up to me and say 'not again Barry', then walk me to the tills and take the tags off all the clothes I was stealing. They even gave me a thirty pound gift card to apologise for the inconvenience.'
The manufacturer of the barriers told us of their delight the product was now seen to be of additional use to the high street. 'We are glad that shops and their staff have finally realised the true potential of our products, but still have some way to go with our other inventions . We are now looking at an advertising campaign to show our car alarms may go off if someone is stealing a car and not just because someone knocked it with their door.' However they did go on to tell us about the success of one of their major projects. 'We have had a great detection rate with our security gates based in London's main river. Not one pirate has successfully stolen from the UK without setting off our Thames Barrier'