A WALTON shop has been forced to take meat off shelves following a spate of thefts.

The East of England Co-op, in Walton High Street, has suffered the loss of hundreds of pounds of meat produce over recent days.

Due to the repeated raids by thieves, the shop has taken drastic measures to remove a number of meat products from refrigerators.

Certain meat products will now no longer be available for customers to pick up from the shelves themselves.

Instead, customers will need to speak to a member of staff who will collect the product for them.

Customers were informed of the change through signs posted on the shelves.

The sign read: "Due to the high number of thefts in the last few days we have taken the rest of our meat products off the shelves.

"While the matter is in the hands of the police we will not be putting meat products back on to the fixture until further notice.

"If you wish to purchase a product that would normally be in this section please speak to a member of staff and we will be happy to assist."

An East of England Co-op spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with the relevant authorities to minimise losses.”

Walton councillor, Ann Oxley, urged anyone with any information to reach out to the police.

She said: "Sadly there have been a number of recent thefts and vandalism in recent weeks, if anyone has any information I urge them to speak to the local police.

"I will be personally speaking to the police regarding these issues.

"Unfortunately, shop theft is on the increase and while the meat products not being on display is not ideal, I fully understand the position of the Co-op.

"I hope the police can catch the criminals as soon as possible, so normal service can resume.

"It is vital we support local shops in Walton."

 Essex Police was both contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.