Tag Archives: Shoplifting

‘Christmas crime bonanza could cost the UK’s economy over £1 billion’ states The Shield Group

While the current trend is for general crime rates continuing to fall, shoplifting is on the rise. According to Home Office figures, the number of shoplifting offences in 2013-2014 has risen by 6.7% when compared to the previous year.

The Christmas period usually sees very little crime in most business sectors, but there’s one great exception: the retail industry. Since the recession in 2008, the holiday ‘free-for-all’ has become considerably worse with the increased footfall during the festive season something of a double-edged sword for UK retailers.

True, an influx of customers does cause sales to skyrocket, but it also leads to overcrowded shop floors, in turn providing the perfect cover for shoplifters.

Shoplifting is often considered a victimless crime. However, research shows this isn’t the case. The economic effects of shoplifting during the Christmas period are massive, with thieves stealing an average of £37.04 from every family.

In addition to these costs, for the staff working in shops and stores who are threatened with or subject to physical violence when confronted by thieves, this can have dire psychological effects.

The majority of retailers will encounter some form of security threat over Christmas, but it’s the large department stores that are targeted the most. This is due to them stocking those products most commonly found on the thieves’ wish lists. Items such as tablets, game consoles, perfume, women’s clothing and jewellery are most popular.

This doesn’t mean smaller shops shouldn’t watch out, though, as the thieves often approach smaller and more vulnerable retailers because they stock alcohol, Christmas decorations and, in some cases, high value food items, etc.

John Roddy: CEO at The Shield Group

John Roddy: CEO at The Shield Group

Being aware of the issues

John Roddy, CEO at The Shield Group, said: “Dramatic increases in shopper numbers creates the potential for serious problems. There are also some consumers who derive a thrill out of stealing. They typically pocket a ‘free’ gift during an otherwise legitimate shopping trip. However, traditional criminals also get in on the act as shops become so packed that it’s much harder for security teams to be aware of the issues. Add to this mix a thriving black market and the lure of swift financial gain is potentially all it takes to motivate the criminally inclined.”

Threats to retailers are not just external. During this time of year figures consistently show an increase in employee theft. This type of theft alone cost the UK economy over £300 million in 2013.

Temporary staff are often employed over the Christmas period, of course, and research recently conducted by First Advantaged shows that significantly more inaccuracies can be found in the CVs of seasonal workers when compared to those of their permanent staff colleagues.

Nearly 50% of education verification tests carried out on seasonal workers uncover discrepancies, while a third of employment history verifications turn up inaccuracies and discrepancies of some form.

According to Roddy, the solution to this issue lies with the retail owners themselves.

“Security should be every shop owner’s number one priority,” asserted Roddy, “not only to ensure that nothing is stolen, but also to guarantee the safety of both customers and staff alike.”

In conclusion, Roddy added: “By implementing appropriate security measures and reviewing the temporary staff that are being employed, there ought to be no reason why crime should be allowed to ruin the Christmas holidays.”

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Mitie unveils online crime reporting partnership with Facewatch

FTSE 250 strategic outsourcing company Mitie has announced a strategic partnership with Facewatch, the online crime reporting and networking service.

Facewatch is a secure, cloud-based platform that enables business users, the public and the police to report low-level crime with CCTV evidence and to share offender images and intelligence with other businesses within secure groups.

Facewatch provides tools to develop intelligence about specific individuals and affords advanced statistics enabling businesses and the police service to drive down crime.

The Facewatch system holds the police approved Secured by Design accreditation and is fully accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as a means of accessing digital case files within UK Courts of Law. Facewatch is accessible from any Internet-connected device.

Mitie has forged an online crime reporting partnership with Facewatch

Mitie has forged an online crime reporting partnership with Facewatch

This new partnership will see Mitie take control of the entire crime reporting process on behalf of its customers.

Using Mitec, Mitie’s hi-tech security hub, analysts will be able to review CCTV footage, prepare incident reports and develop evidential packs in line with police service and CPS guidelines so these can be used to support prosecutions.

Crime reporting and threat analysis

Darren Gamage, managing director of technology services at Mitie’s Total Security Management business, said: “Working with Facewatch gives us an exciting opportunity to enhance our crime reporting and threat analysis service for our customers. Our analysts in Mitec will work with the various police forces in efficient crime reporting, allowing us to better manage risk and document incidents.”

Gamage added: “We will also be able to share data across our clients’ estates where we’re already monitoring their systems or providing a physical security presence.”

Simon Gordon, chairman of Facewatch, commented: “We’re delighted to be working with Mitie on this launch. Delivering an instant and secure reporting solution to offences such as shoplifting, personal theft and vandalism is key to our partnership. We are focused on improving the quality of crime reports sent to the police from businesses, assisting in developing police efficiencies and reducing crime.”

The Facewatch system now contains around 18,000 images and logs over 8,000 business premises. The concept was kick-started back in March 2010.

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UK retailers lose £2.7 billion to shoplifting, employee theft, internal fraud and administrative errors in last 12 months

According to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer, shrink – comprised of shoplifting, employee theft, vendor or supplier fraud and administrative errors – has cost the retail industry more than £81 billion worldwide in 2013 and £2.7 billion in the UK alone. This represents 0.97% of all UK retailer sales on average.

Underwritten by an independent grant from Checkpoint Systems, the research was carried out in 2014 by The Smart Cube and Ernie Deyle, a retail loss prevention analyst. It’s based on in-depth phone and written survey interviews conducted in 24 countries among 222 retailers responsible for no less than £475 billion in sales.

The average cost of retail crime per person (which, unlike shrink, is based on dishonest employees, shoplifters, fraudulent suppliers and the cost of loss prevention) across the 24 countries surveyed ranged from £46 to £338. The annual cost of retail crime to UK shoppers, as passed on from retailers, averages £80.00 per person.

Shrink appears to be down slightly in most countries. The lowest shrink rates were recorded in Norway (.83% of retail sales) followed by Japan and the UK (.97%). The US came in at 1.48% of retail sales, down slightly from 1.50% last year. The highest rates were recorded in Mexico (1.70%) and China (1.53%).

Shrink (comprised of shoplifting, employee theft, vendor or supplier fraud and administrative errors) cost the retail industry more than £81 billion worldwide in 2013

Shrink (comprised of shoplifting, employee theft, vendor or supplier fraud and administrative errors) cost the retail industry more than £81 billion worldwide in 2013

Russell Holland, vice-president of sales for the UK and EMEA distributors at Checkpoint Systems, said: “Over the last year, retailers in the UK have been taking great strides and made substantial investments in the fight against retail crime. Many UK retailers reported that improved security methods have helped them to keep losses under control. We’re also seeing retailers invest in their employees’ education and understanding of loss prevention, marking an encouraging step in the fight against retail crime in the UK.”

While shoplifting remains the biggest cause of all retail shrink in 16 of the 24 countries surveyed, here in the UK both administrative and non-crime losses ranked first (at 36.5%) with shoplifting next on the list (at 25.3%).

Stolen merchandise: the most popular items

The most-stolen items across Europe are those products that are easy to conceal and harbour a good resale value, such as fashion accessories, wines and spirits. Other frequently stolen products include power tools, mobile accessories and make-up products.

Survey respondents state that source tagging – the application of EAS or RFID labels on goods prior to their arrival at retail stores – has increased around the globe. Such tagging is currently used on high value and high theft items like meat, health and beauty products and alcohol.

80% of UK retailers are source-tagging up to 10% of products. A further 20% are source-tagging over 20% of all merchandise. In addition, 50% of European retailers plan to increase the number of source-tagged SKUs.

According to The Smart Cube: “This report provides detailed descriptions of the sources of shrink and helps retailers understand the most cost-effective ways of addressing their problems. A number of Best Practices emerged from our research, including appropriate spending ranges to address the issue.”

Alcohol is a prime target for thieves

Alcohol is a prime target for thieves

“We’re pleased to support this global statistical research for the thirteenth year,” said Per Levin, president and chief sales officer for shrink management and merchandise visibility solutions at Checkpoint Systems. “Our hope is that retailers can learn more about the causes of shrink and work with their suppliers and solutions partners to create joint programmes designed to reduce shrink and its associated costs.”

Interested parties can obtain a copy of the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer report by logging on at: http://www.GlobalRetailTheftBarometer.com

*Retailers wishing to participate in next year’s Global Retail Theft Barometer study may register here

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The Shield Group advises UK retailers as retail crime increases

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced that the direct cost of crime to retailers last year rose to £511 million – 166% higher than in 2007-2008.

A leading expert from The Shield Group, the UK’s ninth largest business security company, has looked at today’s figures and offers retailers advice on how to best protect themselves in 2014.

Paul Bland, divisional director-retail of The Shield Group, is hoping his advice can help retailers better prepare during a time of increased incidents of theft and fraud.

Last year, retailers suffered the highest level of theft for nine years. Thefts by customers rose to their highest level for nine years, with the average value of items stolen going up by 62% to £177.

High value items being targeted include electrical goods, designer clothing, handbags and power tools.

With the well-publicised struggles of the British High Street of late, the added crippling cost of theft could force many retailers to shut their High Street branches, with small-to-medium sized business affected the most.

According to the BRC’s annual Retail Crime Survey, retailers suffered 2.7 million offences in the year 2012-2013. While burglary, robbery and staff theft all take their toll by pushing up retail costs, shoplifting and the rise of supply chain fraud are having by far the biggest impact.

Paul Bland: divisional director of retail at The Shield Group

Paul Bland: divisional director of retail at The Shield Group

Last year, theft values by customers reached their highest level in almost a decade, meaning this type of criminality now accounts for more than 80% of all retail crime. Supply chain fraud increased by 15% from the previous year as organised criminal gangs have become more sophisticated in their approach.

Retail criminality has evolved

In recent years, retail crime has evolved and surpasses the rather more obvious shoplifting to more complex crimes like cyber fraud, organised robbery and employee theft, in turn affecting larger and smaller businesses alike.

As a result, both independent and small retailers are turning in ever-greater numbers to private security companies for security solutions. Sector-trained security and loss prevention officers are well placed to stifle criminal activities on the shop floor and implement rigorous crime and loss prevention measures to discourage theft, reduce shrink while promoting a safer, more profitable shopping environment.

The Shield Group believes that the implementation of intelligence-led security solutions across retail communities has played a vital role in preventing imminent and potential criminal threats. As retail crime evolves, it’s more necessary than ever to use these measures to anticipate and pre-empt crime by sourcing, analysing and exploiting timely intelligence.

Effective governance is being built through proactive criminal investigations, the development of Best Practice techniques with retailers and the transmission of evidence to the authorities.

Alcohol is a target for many thieves

Alcohol is a target for many thieves

A cost-effective method for small retailers to increase their security success rate is active co-operation between each other, as well as with private security firms, community groups and the police. The volume of information now shared results in a ‘constant chatter’ between these entities, discussing subject matter such as movements of known shoplifters, real-time notification of thefts and new theft techniques, as well prominent prosecutions.

This intelligence-fed security approach equips retailers with the information required to adapt to changing theft techniques and implement strategies that best protect their brands for the future.

Focus of product security

Product security is no longer focused solely on the shop floor. Digital marking and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking now plays a key role in protecting the whole supply chain from warehouse to customer.

Frontline security officers have contributed to a 50% fall in robbery and violence against staff and customers. This gives retailers confidence that security officers are able to step in at the critical moment to diffuse tensions and respond quickly to situations before the local police arrive, acting as a vital deterrent to criminals.

Technological advances are also helping many small retailers react to crime while it’s being committed. Improvements in Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) systems, in-store and local CCTV and other technological advances are discouraging criminals and helping managers better allocate human resources.

New methods for preventing theft

Paul Bland, the divisional director for retail at The Shield Group, commented: “We have found retailers are spending more on private security measures now than they have in the past as they need to think of new ways to protect themselves from theft which last year cost UK retailers over £511 million in losses. The implementation of intelligence-led security solutions across retail communities will play a vital role in preventing imminent and potential criminal threats. As retail crime evolves, we believe it is more necessary than ever to use these measures to anticipate and pre-empt crime by sourcing, analysing and exploiting timely intelligence.”

Bland went on to state: “The Shield Group is seeing a large increase in active co-operation between individual retailers, private security firms, community groups and the police. The volume of information now shared results in a ‘constant chatter’ between these entities, discussing subject matter such as movements of known shoplifters, real-time notification of thefts and new theft techniques, as well prominent prosecutions.”

In conclusion, Bland commented: “Technological advances are helping many retailers react to crime while it is being committed. Alarms, in-store and local CCTV and other technological advances are discouraging criminals and helping security managers better allocate human resources. Private security companies such as The Shield Group are now offering a Total Security Solutions (TSS) model, allowing them to focus solely on securing their clients’ premises, employees and customers. This innovative model has proven a success with many retailers across the nation, leaving them to concentrate on serving their customers better.”

Top security tips for SMB retailers

(1) Carry out a crime and loss prevention risk assessment

(2) If outsourcing security, ensure the company chosen is able to demonstrate sector expertise and provide the sort of protection and services required

(3 Make sure that crime prevention systems are up-to-date and working well with regular reviews and checks

(4) Senior management must demonstrate a commitment to driving loss prevention culture engagement from all staff

(5) Ensure store management attend local crime prevention group meetings and that intelligence obtained from the authorities is communicated to staff at all levels

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