Storekeepers are being warned to be vigilant over the Christmas period following a sharp rise in shoplifting.
Nearly 200 more incidents of thefts from shops, along with metal and stone thefts, have been recorded this year than last year, figures show.
Financial hardships due to benefits changes and austerity measures are being blamed for a rise in these crimes.
Overall crime in the borough rose by 5.7 per cent for the period from April to December, compared to the same period last year.
At the same time, the number of burglaries from homes, car crime and anti-social behaviour has fallen, while police say that violent crime has 'dropped dramatically'. Council leader Miles Parkinson said: “It is a big concern when people are in so desperate a measure they will look to commit petty crimes and it has an effect on us all, especially shopkeepers.
"Over Christmas, retailers have to be more careful against those people who will take advantage and be shoplifting.”
Steve Riley, owner of Riley’s DVDs and CDs stall in the Market Hall, said he has installed CCTV cameras. He said: “You get a few people coming in who buy two things and steal another two things."
Ashfak Shaikh, owner of S&I Newsagents, on Blackburn Road, in Accrington, said: “Sometimes we get three or four people come in and when one of us is not looking at them they nick something like sweets.”
Great Harwood PC Dave Render believes that better security at stores could account for the increase in recorded thefts.
In a report to the council, the Police and Crime Commissioners office wrote: “Hyndburn has seen an increase in shoplifting and in particular theft of food stuffs. This is replicated across the county and can, in a lot of cases, be attributed to current austerity levels.”
Lucy Hardwick, manager of the Maundy Relief charity in Accrington, said more people are resorting to crime out of ‘desperation’.
She said: “We have heard people being tempted because they literally have nothing in their cupboards.That’s a level of desperation which I haven't seen before. I can understand that anyone in that position feeling so desperate that they would do something they wouldn’t normally do.”