A 'DEEPLY concerning' near-1,500 crimes have been committed at Inverclyde's supermarkets over the last five years, the Telegraph can reveal.

A Freedom of Information investigation has shown that more than two-thirds of all of the recorded offences since 2018 relate to theft and shoplifting - across a total of 17 stores.

The statistics, released by Police Scotland, reveal a total of 1,450 crimes at retail outlets in Greenock and Port Glasgow.

Greenock-born MSP and former Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene has described the figures as 'alarming' as he called for police to be given more resources to tackle offending.

According to the statistics, Tesco is comfortably the most crime-ridden supermarket in the district, recording more than 600 offences at its Dalrymple Street and Gallagher Retail Park sites.

Crimes have been reported at Greenock's Tesco outlet in every month since June 2018.

Meanwhile, only five months were crime-free over the 61-month period at Port Glasgow Tesco.

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MSP Mr Greene, who was replaced as his party's justice spokesperson by Russell Findlay in June, said: “These figures are alarming and deeply concerning, but even more so for the hardworking retail workers who are on the front line of preventing this kind of crime.

"It is wrong that they are now increasingly responsible for confronting criminals whilst being subject to abuse.

“Both retailers themselves and local police must do everything they can to stop this kind of crime and have adequate resources in place to do so.

"Our local towns and shops should be seen as safe places to work, shop, and visit, particularly for older and more vulnerable customers.

“Businesses, visitors and customers must feel safe to visit and do business in Inverclyde, so it is vital that we work quickly to turn this worrying trend around.”

Of the criminal acts published in the FOI response, almost 200 were raised at Greenock's B&M, more than 100 were recorded at the town's Morrisons and Iceland stores, and dozens of other offences - including threatening or abusive behaviour, carrying offensive weapons, assault, vandalism, fraud, drugs offences, breaking into premises and fireraising - were reported at The Range, Home Bargains, Aldi, Lidl, the Co-op and Farmfoods, together with the other stores mentioned.

Seventeen crime reports were raised in the first two months of last year at Greenock's Tesco alone, plus a further 15 all in the month of December, the majority of which related to shoplifting.

Between July 2019 and July 2021, crimes were recorded in 25 consecutive months at the Tesco store in Port Glasgow - and the figures also show that in every month during 2022 a crime was reported at the shop.

READ MORE: Serial shoplifter given 'one final chance' by sheriff after 18-month stealing spree

Aldi, Iceland, Farmfoods, B&M, M&S and B&Q in the Port are all in double figures for the total number of crimes recorded over the last half-decade.

The Telegraph has not yet been able to ascertain how many of these incidents led to convictions, however, we have previously reported on several prolific shoplifters who have faced prosecution at Greenock Sheriff Court.

In April, the Tele covered David Morrison's case after the 54-year-old had admitted 27 separate charges of theft from a dozen stores in Greenock and Port Glasgow dating back to August 2021.

Defence solicitor Edel McGinty told a hearing that the offender had been 'essentially stealing to live'.

Meanwhile, earlier this year we told of another career thief, Jamie Lee Kerr, who had been given 'one final chance' to stay out of jail after an 18-month stealing spree that involved her lifting clothing, fragrances, sweets, booze, food, toiletries, razor blades, skin care products, laundry items and vape cartridges.

Police Scotland said the information in the FOI response was captured using GIS (geographic information system) mapping and therefore includes the car park or outside area at each store, as well as the shop itself.