SUPERMARKETS have been forced to lock up basic household essentials costing as little as £3.50 in a bid to deter thieves amid the cost of living crisis.
Customers buying washing detergent were shocked to find it had been put in security boxes next to signs warning: “Shoplifters will be prosecuted.”
Images show packs of Persil, Bold, Fairy and Ariel detergent — costing between £3.50 and £7.50 — inside plastic casings, which buyers must ask staff to remove at the checkout.
An alarm is triggered if thieves try to remove a tagged or boxed product from the store.
The move comes after footage emerged on social media of shoppers fighting over reduced-price goods at a Tesco store.
Customers grabbed and pushed each other in front of terrified children. And one member of staff had to dodge out of the way as the aisle descended into chaos.
More thefts have led to tighter security at many supermarkets.
Tesco and Aldi customers have reported security tags being fixed to milk and cheese, which have soared in price by more than 27 per cent in the last year.
As well as detergents, the Co-op has placed baby milk brands, such as Aptamil and Cow & Gate, in locked cases. They can cost up to £18 a pack.
And Sainsbury’s has started putting security tags on tubs of Aptamil baby, toddler and follow-on milks. Shoppers struggling with the cost of living voiced their concerns online.
One mum tweeted: “Families are really struggling so what do they expect?” Another said: “It’s a sad sight to see. Things can surely only get better.”
A spokesman for the Co-op said the security boxes are not a UK-wide policy.
They added: “We remain keen to trial new deterrents and this has involved a small-scale trial of packaging for higher value products.”