The barriers are being trialled at one Birmingham branch of the supermarket to crack down on thieving during the night, but could be rolled out further if the scheme is a success
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Tesco is trialling security barriers on the alcohol aisle to prevent shoplifting.
The barriers completely block off the booze section of the Tesco Extra in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.
These can be programmed to open when customers get close or be locked until a member of staff opens them for a shopper.
The barriers have been put up because the store has a shoplifting problem at night when fewer staff are working.
A supermarket source said: “It is quite an extreme method to cut down on theft but a very effective one.
“They are a bleak sign of the times but will save Tesco a fortune.”
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The barriers could then be rolled out to other Tesco stores, the Sun reports.
Tesco would not comment.
A source close to Tesco suggested the move would keep customers and colleagues safe.
Another Tesco Extra branch started checking customer receipts this week to stop theft.
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In a typed notice that appears to have been posted inside a Rotherham branch, customers are advised about the new measures coming into force on October 12 in a bid to curb anti-social behaviour.
It continues: “We know this may sound a little unusual, but we genuinely believe this is the right thing to do for our regular customers.
“We’ve listened to lots of customer feedback over the last 6 months and the biggest thing people speak about is wanting to feel safer in the area and our store. We want this too!”
The notice at the Drummond Street branch says that staff are “continually looking for ways to make your shopping trip as simple, safe and pleasant as can be” but adds that staff are regularly having to deal with anti-social behaviour and theft.
The news comes as a former boss of Tesco calls for for a law change so “trolley rage” shoppers can be jailed for up to two years.
Ex-Tesco executive Lucy Neville-Rolfe wants an “assault or abuse against retail staff” offence in the Policing Bill, which is being debated in Parliament and could become law.
It comes as 2.9 million store workers face a rising threat of violence, which began with anger over face masks and has grown through shortages.
Usdaw shopworkers’ union boss Paddy Willis said: “It’s been a terrible year, with over 90% of staff abused, two thirds threatened and one in seven attacked.”
The Baroness tabled her Lords amendment after a similar one failed in the Commons despite calls from the cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee.
A report by the committee found the police response to retail staff attacks had so far failed to match the scale of the problem.
Staff have also been assaulted when challenging shoplifters or asking customers buying booze for ID.
The British Retail Consortium said there were 455 incidents a day at stores in 2020 – despite a £1.2billion investment in safety measures such as body-worn cameras, increased security staff and panic alarms.