SHOPPERS at a village store have been could not believe their eyes when they spotted prime cuts of British beef in the refrigerators – fitted with GPS trackers.

Boxes containing the clever security devices are being used to deter shoplifters from pinching high value produce such as beef steaks from the Co-op, in Coxhoe, County Durham.

Villager Adam Brown was so surprised to see the device fitted to a sirloin steak that he took a photograph and shared it on social media.

He said: “I was amazed the Co-op were taking such measures to protect a £4.50 cut of meat. I still can't get my head around it.”

The Northern Echo:

Other residents said they were saddened to see that such drastic security measures were necessary but were aware of repeated thefts from the store.

Despite residents’ shock, the retailer said the devices are now used in many of its stores and are deployed to locations “dependant on the latest intelligence”.

To ensure they remain effective, bosses will not reveal how the GPS devices work other than to say they are removed at the till once a shopper pays for their groceries.

But if a tagged item is stolen, it triggers an alert when a geo-fence or virtual boundary is broken.

The Northern Echo:

A spokesperson for Co-op said: "Safety and security for our colleagues is a number one priority.

“Shoplifting can be a flashpoint for the violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour towards frontline shopworkers that continues to rise and, which affects all retailers – that is why Co-op invests in the latest technologies to deter criminal behaviour, while calling for stiffer penalties for those that carry out violence and assaults towards frontline shopworkers in order to send out a clear message.”

Other security measures at Co-op stores include the use of body-worn cameras which send real time audio and visual footage to a remote security operations centre at the touch of a button, smartwater fog cannons in kiosk areas, communication headsets for all frontline colleagues to stay connected and the latest CCTV.