This year’s British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Crime Survey has revealed that UK retailers are fighting a rising tide of theft in-store.
The study revealed that last year saw the highest level of theft for nine years, and the average value of theft increased by 62% to £177 per incident, indicating that stealing is becoming more sophisticated and well planned.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Theft from stores pushed the direct cost of retail crime up to £511m last year; 166% higher than five years ago. Far from being victimless, we all pay for this increased stealing through higher prices and, increasingly, shop closures and damage to town centres, as safety is reduced and communities are blighted.
“Last year we also saw a dramatic increase in fraud and e-crime with eight in 10 retailers reporting a rise in fraud, and the majority of retailers telling us that cyber-attacks pose a critical threat to their business. Combined with the increase in organised theft, this means that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal.”
Other key findings revealed that robberies were up 48%, but burglaries fell by 49% compared to last year. But despite the drop in burglaries, the average cost per incident of criminal damage jumped from £962 to £2,062.
Helen Dickinson said that although retailers are investing in crime and loss prevention, they need help and support. She suggested that police and crime commissioners should follow the lead set in London and work with retailers to build dedicated business crime strategies to help defeat this growing problem.
“We want to work closely with police and crime commissioners and the new National Crime Agency and National Cyber Crime Unit to fight this serious crime, from fraud, to theft, to cyber-attacks,” she said. ” Our engagement has been positive so far, but it’s still early days and it’s important that they implement measures such as single points of contact and create dedicated business crime strategies.”
The BRC survey recommends that there should be a single, national, definition for business crime in the UK to help measure and solve these problems. Police forces should routinely publish business crime data, share that with retailers and work in partnership to combat crime.