Sussex has seen the largest increase in shoplifting in the entire country.

The county had a 45 per cent increase compared to a 24 per cent increase across England between June 2022 and June 2023, the latest available data reveals.

Sussex had 12,920 reported shoplifting incidents in that time frame, up from 8,917 the year before.

Sussex Police said this is partially down to a trial it is running that allows businesses to report shoplifting more easily and quickly.

The Argus previously revealed a spate of repeated shoplifting at businesses around the county, including “rampant” thieving from a Co-op in Durrington.

Kwik Vape in Tarring Road, Worthing, was forced to set up barriers inside the shop to help prevent shoplifting but has still seen incidents as recently as July.

Owner Simon Lawrence said he also received stab threats from the pair involved.

The Argus: Kwik Vape in Worthing has been vandalised and has seen several shoplifting incidents. Pictured is vandalism from February 2022Kwik Vape in Worthing has been vandalised and has seen several shoplifting incidents. Pictured is vandalism from February 2022

“We get more chancers come in or people coming in pairs or threes who try to distract you”, said Simon.

“We have seen people run out of Co-op near our shop and it is normally high-value stuff like fresh coffee and alcohol.

“It is not acceptable but you can understand it a bit more if someone is feeding their family.

“We have seen an increase, it has probably more than doubled since we first opened in January 2020.”

Simon said he has seen people steal items such as beer to try and sell on to anyone they can, including him.

Sussex was followed by Northumbria, Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire and Wiltshire which saw an increase of between 39 per cent and 44 per cent.

The areas at the bottom of the list were City of London with minus seven per cent, Merseyside with five per cent and Cumbria with seven per cent.

Sussex Police said it has been using a technology known as one-touch reporting which it is piloting with the Co-op. It enables Co-op stores to use their software to record a crime and send it to police efficiently.

The force said the pilot accounts for nine per cent of the increase in reports of shoplifting.

Chris Neilson, the force lead for business crime, said: “We acknowledge the financial and emotional impact business crime has on owners and employees, particularly when a business is repeatedly targeted.

“It is important to recognise that within these statistics, there are many repeat offenders that we seek to prosecute and where appropriate, obtain preventative civil orders.

“We have made numerous arrests, charges, and convictions – including many prolific shoplifters – and this is largely thanks to the work of our officers, working in conjunction with partners and the community.”

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told The Argus that Labour has set out “fully costed plans” for 13,000 more police community support officers if they were to get into power.

The Argus: Yvette Cooper said the current shoplifting situation is 'undermining law and order'Yvette Cooper said the current shoplifting situation is 'undermining law and order'

This would be just over 300 officers for each of the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales.

Ms Cooper said: “We have seen organised crime driving repeat shoplifting, people are just getting away with it. We have cases where people walk in, clear a shelf and walk straight out again. It has become an epidemic.

“There are assaults against shopworkers as well, they do such important work and feel unsafe. We have got to have action, it creates a feeling of undermining law and order.”

She said Labour would bring in a new offence for assaults against shopworkers, similar to assaults against emergency workers.

Ms Cooper also said they would scrap the under £200 rule for “low-value shoplifting”. Currently people can be fined and or jailed for up to six months, or for a maximum of seven years if they are worth more than £200.