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Thieves steal £4.4 billion from UK retailers in 2010 equating to £180 per household

Light-fingered thieves have stolen a massive £4.4 billion worth of goods from stores in high streets up and down the country this year, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer 2010, published today by security and merchandise visibility specialists, Checkpoint Systems.

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Thieves steal £4.4 billion from UK retailers in 2010 equating to £180 per household

The annual study, conducted by the Centre for Retail Research for Checkpoint Systems, highlighted that whilst theft has decreased by 5.8% in the UK since it surged globally in 2009, it is still considerably higher than the £3.7 billion lost in 2008, continuing the upward trend that has been visible over the last five years.

“Even with the decline in retail theft, crime put an extra £180 on the average British family’s yearly shopping bill”, said Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Centre for Retail Research and author of the study. And that is a cost many people can ill-afford, with the recession only just behind us and the looming VAT rise”, added Bamfield.

However, most worrying from the report, was the increase in staff theft. 36.8% of loss in the UK retail industry is down to dishonest employees, which is significantly higher than the 29.8% European average and disturbingly, greater than in 2009. In fact, internal theft is the highest in the UK than anywhere else in Europe.

On average this year, thieves managed to get away with stealing approximately £93 worth of goods per shopping spree. Needless to say, the typical customer theft was not a tin of cat food or a loaf of bread. Expensive branded clothing, accessories, children’s wear and lingerie topped the list of most stolen items accounting for 1.79% of sales, with natural and speciality foods, in particular fresh meat, cheese, alcohol and high quality seafood following closely behind at 1.77%.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. These figures are lower than they may have been had retailers not invested more than ever before on improved security measures. Whilst 33.1% of those surveyed reported an increase in attempted shoplifting, the recent economic turbulence has led retailers to adopt new loss prevention policies in a bid to crack down on crime. In the UK alone, over £970 million was spent on loss prevention accounting for a mere 0.29% of sales.

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