This year’s British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Crime Survey has revealed that UK retailers are fighting a rising tide of theft in store.
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.
Criminal activity by a very small minority is having an impact on businesses, employees and the vast majority of honest shoppers.
Despite retailers investing an average of £2 million each on crime and loss prevention measures, they need help and support. 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.
Direct cost of retail crime up to £511 million
Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “Theft from stores pushed the direct cost of retail crime up to £511 million 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.”
Dickinson added: “Last year, we also saw a dramatic increase in fraud and e-crime with eight-in-ten 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.”
The BRC’s leader continued: “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 through to theft and on to cyber attacks. 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.”
Single, national definition for business crime
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 information with retailers and work in partnership to combat crime.
In partnership, retailers, the police and Government can build on the introduction of the National Crime Agency and National Cyber Crime Unit to help retailers combat this growing problem.
These changes will not only fight crime, but also boost confidence and help to tackle the under-reporting problem that led to only one-in-ten thefts being reported last year.
Other key findings of the survey
It’s estimated there were 2.7 million offences against retailers in 2012-2013, directly adding £511 million to retailers’ costs.
Robberies were up 48%, but burglaries fell by 49% compared to last year. Despite the number of burglaries falling, the cost of each incident rose from £1,730 to £2,067.
The average cost per incident of criminal damage jumped by 114% in 2012-2013, from £962 to £2,062.