Three Iceland staff are HIV positive after being attacked by shoplifters with hypodermic needles, the chain’s boss has told MailOnline.
Richard Walker, executive chairman of Iceland Foods, is the latest retail leader to speak out about the increase in violent attacks on staff working at high street stores.
‘Every single week I receive an average of 12 reports of ”serious incidents” where managers and other colleagues have been attacked in our stores, almost always by shoplifters,’ he told MailOnline.
‘Colleagues are being slapped, punched and threatened with a range of weapons including knives, hammers, firearms and hypodermic needles.
‘Three of our store colleagues are now HIV positive as a result of needle attacks several years ago. Other assaults have resulted in injuries ranging from a broken jaw to a fractured skull.’
The idea of victims being infected with HIV after being attacked with infected needles has long been a dark urban myth, but Mr Walker’s comments show this has now become a reality.
Staff at other chains have been punched, bottled and stabbed by thieves – who store security experts say are increasingly operating in organised criminal gangs.
Co-op employees have also been threatened with syringes, while another was assaulted with a medieval mace, a senior executive told MailOnline.
As part of an investigation into the UK’s shoplifting ‘epidemic’, MailOnline has obtained exclusive CCTV footage of shoplifters in John Lewis. In one video, a man wearing a black jumper crouches down and opens a black bin bag before stashing two Pure speakers inside
In another video a man walks off with products in his hand, before turning around again and exposing his face to the CCTV camera. In both cases the shoplifters were detained before being arrested by police
Richard Walker, executive chairman of Iceland Foods, is the latest retail executive to speak out about the increase in violent attacks on staff across the UK high street
An Iceland security guard confronts a shoplifter inside a store in Ilford, London. None of the images in this article show people involved in needle attacks or any victims of them