THOUSANDS of pounds worth of booze has been stolen from Helensburgh’s Waitrose supermarket in two and a half years, a report has revealed.

And the thefts could jeopardise the company’s hopes of expanding the amount of space given over to the sale of alcohol in its Cardross Road store – after police expressed concern at a lack of action to tackle the shop’s theft problem.

The thefts were revealed as part of a police representation on a bid by Waitrose to increase the size of its alcohol sales section and add a promotional four-tier wine tower.

The items identified as being stolen from the Cardross Road supermarket included 35 bottles of whisky and 27 bottles of vodka.

One reported haul in March 2017 was worth around £1,500, while another cargo in January of this year was worth £965. Neither the drinks nor quantities are identified for either as part of the report.

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Waitrose to increase the space permitted for alcohol sales, and to add a ‘wine tower’ to the display, went before the Argyll and Bute licensing board on Tuesday.

But the board decided to seek more information in light of the police’s concerns – and continued the application until its next meeting on Tuesday, November 12.

Police Scotland divisional commander John Paterson said in a letter to the board: “Your Honours should be aware that the premises were visited by the Police Scotland licensing department on March 7, 2017 due to the volume of alcohol being stolen.

“During the meeting to discuss security, the manager stated the company knew their security was not adequate, and they were looking to make improvements in the future.

“The manager was advised police could assist with a crime prevention survey if they deemed this necessary.

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“The premises have been subject to more visits from the licensing department and a crime prevention survey was carried out on September 18, 2018.

"It would appear none of the recommendations have been carried out.

“The Board may wish to consider if it would be appropriate to grant an increase in alcohol capacity at this time.”

Eighteen bottles of gin have also been stolen from the shop during the two and a half year period, while spirits, champagne, wine, brandy and sherry have also been taken.

Councillor David Kinniburgh, chair of the licensing board, said after Tuesday's meeting: “There was quite a lot of concern about the police report because of the thefts that have taken place.

“Obviously the police had advised them to put measures in place and it was not clear whether these had happened.”

“So we have asked for it to come back to the next board meeting so that they can give us a fuller picture.”

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The report revealed that the £1,500 theft took place two days before the initial 2017 visit from the licensing department.

Two females allegedly put items into separate trolleys, left the shop and placed their haul within a vehicle.

The £965 theft in January involved a man and a woman in the early evening of Saturday, January 12.

Staff stopped the couple outside and recovered trolleys with goods worth £965, but the woman had allegedly put some items in her bag and left.

On the evening of Tuesday, January 22, staff noticed a man acting suspiciously in the alcohol sales area.

He was then seen to approach a female in possession of a trolley full of alcohol and the couple attempted to leave the store. The value of their haul was £668.

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A spokesperson for Waitrose said: “We take security very seriously and have measures in place to prevent theft; although still disappointing, only one incident of theft has been reported this year at our Helensburgh shop.

“As a responsible retailer, we ensure all our shops adhere to the strict laws around alcohol.”