Police in Fife are bracing themselves for a rise in shoplifting as the cost of living soars this winter.
And they predict more calls about missing and vulnerable people as households struggle to make ends meet.
South West Fife Inspector Tony Rogers said the theft of food and other essentials in the area was already on the up.
And he expects that to continue over the coming months as people struggle to pay the bills.
Fife Council has announced a £10 million fund to help support those in crisis.
However, while it may be able to mitigate the worst of the issue, there are fears some people may fall through the cracks.
South west area committee convener David Barratt said: “It’s difficult to imagine how hard it’s going to be for a lot of people.”
Number of missing person reports also expected to rise
Mr Rogers said police in the area had recorded an 80% increase in acquisitive crime in a year – although he cautioned that the previous period had covered several months of lockdown when some shops were closed.
“Acquisitive crime increased and I expect it to continue to increase,” he said.
The cost of living crisis is going to lead to more people feeling the pinch.”
Inspector Tony Rogers.
“That’s dishonesty, theft and shoplifting.
“Given the cost of living, we expect an ongoing rise to some extent.”
The inspector also revealed south west Fife deals with more missing people than anywhere else in Fife.
More than 1,800 missing person reports were received between April 1 and August 31 across Fife this year.
An average of two a day were reported in the south west.
Mr Rogers said: “A big part of policing is vulnerability and missing persons.
“That vulnerability is going to increase, I would imagine.
“The cost of living crisis is going to lead to more people feeling the pinch.”
Action to mitigate cost of living crisis
Councillor Barratt said a huge amount of work was going in to supporting people in Fife this winter.
Suggestions include opening warm banks in community halls and libraries, food support and help with fuel costs.
The SNP member added: “There’s no details yet on what that support will entail and we’ve been criticising the slow pace.
“But hopefully the council will be able to mitigate some of the problem, although it can’t do everything.
“It’s not just energy costs now, it’s mortgages as well.
“There will be a lot of households who simply can’t absorb that.”
The concerns in Fife echo those of police in Tayside.
In August, Chief Superintendent Phil Davison said the force had concerns over the impact of the cost of living as more people struggle financially.