TAUNTON'S shoplifting hotspots have been revealed in a league of shame.

Figures obtained by the County Gazette detail the locations for more than 1,400 shoplifting offences across the town in the last two years (see tables at the foot of this article).

Supermarkets top the list, but the number of offences has fallen over the past year, and the major chains say they take every incident “extremely seriously”.

The Asda store at Halcon saw the most thefts with 109, as staff called police on average more than once a week to report incidents.

Second on the list is the Morrisons supermarket at Dellers Wharf, which was the victim of 106 shoplifting offences.

Another supermarket chain, the Co-operative group, reported 93 incidents across its two Priorswood sites, while Primark topped the charts for the most targeted clothing store.

Officers dealt with 80 incidents of shoplifting at the budget high street chain on East Street, followed by Debenhams on North Street with 75.

In total, figures released by Avon and Somerset Police under the Freedom of Information Act show there were 561 incidents of shoplifting recorded between June 1, 2013 and May 30, 2014, down from 918 during the same period in 2012/13.

Andy Sharman, from Somerset West Businesses Against Crime, said: “At first glance, these figures showing nearly a 50% reduction in shop theft year on year appear encouraging.

"However, they do not reflect the true situation faced by businesses in Taunton town centre.

“Recorded crime figures do not incorporate instances where community resolutions are delivered, the businesses have dealt with the matter in-store, or crimes attended that have come via the radio link rather than police comms.”

Although it topped the table, Asda said the figure was small compared to the amount of customers that visit its 24-hour ‘supercentre’.

A spokesman added: “We welcomed over three million shoppers to our store in Taunton over the past two years yet instances of shoplifting are minimal.

“However, we do take the matter extremely seriously following up every incident with the police.”

Morrisons said it trains staff to be “vigilant” and works with police to catch offenders.

“We work hard to try and ensure that all our supermarkets provide a safe and welcoming environment but unfortunately supermarkets will always be a target for shoplifting and other types of anti-social behaviour,” a spokesman said.

The Co-operative group said it takes incidents of theft “extremely serious” and will continue to work with police to drive down crime.

Despite efforts to contact Primark, no response was forthcoming.

Taunton's shoplifting hotspots - the data: