SHOPKEEPERS are having to hide coffee jars to foil thieving drug addicts.

Coffee is relatively expensive and can be easily sold for cash. former councillor Simon Cussons said: 'I visited the Spar on Bouverie Street a week ago and thought they had run out of coffee.

When I asked the cashier when they would be getting some more I was surprised to learn they had to keep it behind the counter.

'She explained to me that they had to keep it there because drug users steal it and sell it on to fund their habit. I think it is a very sad indication of today's society that it has had to come to this.'

Lyn Cartwright of The Parade Spar, Blacon, said: 'Since I took over as manager three years ago more and more items have had to go behind the counter.

'This did seem to be solving the problem until we realised that people were still coming through the gap in the till to get to the coffee.

'We tend to get two types of shoplifters, those stealing to sell on for drug money and kids who come in for a dare.

'Putting coffee behind the counter along with other items like razors and boxes of chocolates does reduce the amount stolen.'

Inspector Mel Williams said: 'I think from a drug users' point of view they will take anything they can sell on quite quickly.

'Coffee and other items like razor blades and bacon have always been popular items to steal.'