A GREENOCK shop boss has declared she's 'lost all confidence' in the police amid a rising tide of retail crime — and incidents at her store 'every other week'.

Eddy's Food Station manager Jennifer Paton says she and her staff are continually facing threats and abuse as well as persistent thieving.

The South Street store, which underwent a £300,000 makeover earlier this year to refurbish the ex Spar shop, now has more than 40 CCTV cameras and other security measures including panic buttons installed.

But Jennifer — standing beside a cracked glass door — told the Telegraph that criminal incidents keep on racking up and she's been left 'frustrated' by a lack of police.

Jennifer Paton, whose shop is owned by former Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson, feels like she and her staff are 'hitting our heads against a brick wall' when they report incidents.

Accepting that lack of resources is hampering any official efforts to crack down on shop crime, she said: "The police are totally outnumbered now.

Greenock Telegraph: Eddy's Food Station on South StreetEddy's Food Station on South Street (Image: George Munro)

"I've been in this shop for a year since we took over and the first three months we had kids coming in trying to steal a wee bit of play-dough or whatever. But now it's folk coming in and trying to take shelves of coffee, alcohol, food and it's almost like a shopping list of things that they're coming in for.

"It has got worse, it's happening more often and they're getting more brazen as well.

"I went down to the police station recently and they told me, 'In due course'. I had to challenge them and say 'Somebody needs to come out, this isn't acceptable'.

READ MORE'Deeply concerning' figures reveal nearly 1,500 crimes across Inverclyde stores

"I need support, this is getting out of hand. They're very hesitant to help and it's frustrating.

"I've got no confidence in the police but I know that myself and my team would stand together no matter what."

Cracked glass panels were noticeable at the shop, with Jennifer confirming that a repeat thief chanced his luck three weeks ago and tried to run out of the 'no exit' door.

Greenock Telegraph: Jennifer PatonJennifer Paton (Image: George Munro)

Earlier this year, we reported that more than 1,500 crimes have been committed at Inverclyde's supermarkets over the last five years, with over two-thirds of all of the recorded offences since 2018 relating to theft and shoplifting.

Last month, we also covered a court sentencing hearing for convicted armed robber Michael Glancy, who caused thousands of pounds worth of damage with a machete in a shocking shop-smashing raid on a Port Glasgow convenience store.

Jennifer said: "We've never had anything of that significance and I really pray we never do.

"It doesn't bear thinking about.

READ MORE: Brazen thug jailed for daylight robbery with machete at Port Glasgow store

"I'm not worried, I'm confident in my own ability and my team's ability to do their job.

"I'm scared when I'm not here because when I'm not here I'm not in control and I can't protect my team.

"A lot of the time I'll do 60 or 70 hours a week just so that I'm here, just in case."

The Greenock shop's panic alarms have been modified, while staff members have walkie-talkies and headsets and more than 40 security cameras are located throughout the store.

Jennifer believes a simple step could help reduce the number of difficult situations she has to face.

"Getting the local police out and about again," she said.

READ MORE: Local police division set to lose 17 posts as budget concerns grow

"When I worked in Glasgow I used to see police driving about once or twice, just going round the streets and they would always pop in at night to ask if everything was ok.

"Even just having their presence, knowing that while they might be at the bottom of the street if something happens they can come in, we can put a face to a name and we've got that relationship with them.

"We just don't have that here.

"One hundred per cent that is missing. I've never seen police doing their local routes round here. In Paisley and Glasgow you see it all the time, they're either walking, cycling or driving, they're everywhere, but in Greenock it's just not a thing.

"It's really bizarre considering the crime rate that we have down here.

"They should be doing more."

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At the annual conference this week for the Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF), chief executive Dr Pete Cheema OBE issued an urgent plea for action to tackle retail crime after Police Scotland figures revealed that almost 8,000 cases of abuse and assaults of retail staff have been reported in the past two years following the introduction of new legislation aimed at protecting workers.

He said: “It is not only shop windows that are being shattered but people’s lives, their livelihoods, their health and their mental wellbeing.

"The level of retail crime that is now being experienced by the convenience sector is utterly shocking, and there is virtually no support from our justice system.

“Police officers and our courts are run ragged. Criminals and organised groups now believe that they are untouchable.

“SGF encourage all of our members to report every crime, but that is meaningless if the police don’t respond and don’t have the resources to hunt down the perpetrators and convict them when they do.

“People should not have to go to work knowing they will likely have to put up with threats, abuse and potentially violence.

"Recent reports from our members highlight that it isn’t just a bottle of wine or two that is going missing, whole shelves and kiosk counters are being emptied at knifepoint.

“If there isn’t action now, the situation will only get worse.”

Police Scotland did not address the specific local concerns raised by Jennifer.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Patrick, the force's lead for acquisitive crime, said: “We work closely with partners in the retail and business sectors to deter, prevent and investigate shoplifting.

"Where we identify business which are being targeted by shoplifters, we have trained officers who can attend and carry out security surveys and offer advice around prevention.

“I would encourage businesses to invest in crime reduction measures and education to help reduce shoplifting."

DS Patrick added: “Everyone has the right to go to their place of work and carry out their duties without fear of being subjected to violence, abuse or intimidation.

“The Protection of Retail Workers Act is there to help to protect retail workers by bringing those to justice who commit crimes against them.

“We work closely with Retailers Against Crime and I want to encourage those employed within the retail sector to come forward and report any criminal activity that is directed towards them."