MORE people may resort to using services without paying for them if they aren't supported through the increase in the cost of living, a business leader has warned.

Freedom of Information figures obtained from North Wales Police by the Leader reveals how many offences of making off without payment were reported to the force each year from 2017 to date in Wrexham and Flintshire.

From the beginning of 2017 to mid-May this year, 925 such offences were reported in Flintshire and 697 occurred in Wrexham.

Of the total 1,622 offences, the majority (1,175) took place at petrol stations.

But the figures reveal a number of other business types which were involved.

The Leader: A North Wales Police jacketA North Wales Police jacket (Image: North Wales Police)

Over the five year period in question in Flintshire, there were 69 offences relating to streets or roads, 33 relating to taxis, 28 to restaurants, six to pubs, four to fast food businesses, and one to a golf course - among others including shops and public buildings, hotels and pet shops.

During that same time period in Wrexham, there were 82 offences relating to streets or roads, 45 to taxis, 37 to restaurants, seven to pubs, five to fast food businesses, five to supermarkets and two to hairdressers - among others, such as retail parks, repair garages and a launderette.

So far in 2022, there have been 39 making off without payment offences in Flintshire, and 47 in Wrexham.

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Askar Sheibani, managing director and CEO of Comtek Network Systems and chairman of Deeside Business Forum (DBF), said he is concerned that the increases in the cost of living could see the frequency of these offences increase if more is not done to help people now.

Speaking of the 2017 to 2022 data, he said: "Obviously, this is going to have had a big impact on our retail sector and economy.

"The country is going through a social crisis right now. This is a humanitarian issue and the police can't deal with this on their own.

The Leader: Askar SheibaniAskar Sheibani

"The Government, the Welsh Government, Local Authorities and the business community - we have to work together."

Speaking about the potential impact of the cost of living increases on offences of this nature, he continued: "People tend to take risks and move into criminal activities.

"If there is an increase in criminality, it won't only affect the the retail sector.

"It will come to the industrial parks as well. This is just the start.

"It could escalate and become worse, and the economic impact of that could be severe."