Cost of retail crime soars to £1.6 billion
The overall cost of retail crime surged by 15.6% in a year to reach £1.6 billion, a survey by the British Retail Consortium has found. However, fewer crime incidents were reported to the police.
The £1.6 billion figure covers retail crime of all types and includes the value of goods stolen and damage done as well as the money retailers spend on prevention.
The BRC’s Retail Crime Survey 2012 found that the number of incidents of crime rose across all categories except for violence against staff and robbery. Customer thefts were the most common retail crime, accounting for 83% of all incidents.
However, the year saw the biggest fall in the reporting of incidents to the police. In 2011, 47% of customer thefts were reported but in 2012 the figure fell to 12%.
The survey also revealed that the retail sector suffers 2 million shoplifting incidents each year involving around £200 million worth of goods. The average value of goods stolen in each offence has risen 28% to £109.
While e-crime was shown to be the mostly costly form of retail crime, costs increased in the year for all retail crimes with the exception of shop break-ins. The retailers in the survey spent an average £750,000 each on crime prevention – 7% more than in the previous year.
BRC director general, Helen Dickinson, said: "Systematic targeting of higher value goods by organised criminals is pushing up the cost of retail crime but the proportion of shoplifting incidents reported to police has plummeted to just one in eight – highlighting just how much there is to do to build retailers' confidence in the way police forces respond.
"There's been some success from closer engagement. The BRC's work with the Met has led to the Mayor's office recognising retail crime as a force priority in London. But I'm concerned that Police and Crime Commissioners, who are now responsible for determining local crime-fighting priorities elsewhere, are not getting a true picture of the extent of retail crime.
"Retail crime doesn't only impact on its direct victims but on wider communities. It damages the reputation of local areas and those who steal from shops commit other sorts of crime.
"Retailers are spending more than ever on protecting their customers, staff and stock. They deserve the support of law enforcers and politicians. Staff should have confidence to report crime and that action will be taken against those responsible for it.
"The appointment of PCCs presents a new opportunity to understand and tackle retail crime and its effects. It's vital they put it high on their agendas."
The survey found that on average, nearly one in 20 stores suffered a robbery during the year. The average cost of each incident trebled to £3,005 from £989 the previous year as a result of more serious, organised offending, the BRC said.
28,700 retail workers across the whole retail sector suffered physical attacks, threats or verbal abuse during the year but the number of incidents per 1,000 employees more than halved to 11.6, compared with the previous year.
Fraud accounted for 26% of the total cost of retail crime last year. All types of fraud increased with identity fraud rising for 80% of retailers in the survey. E-crime accounted for 37% of the total cost of crime making it a more costly retail crime than shoplifting.
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