Shoplifting surges during downturn

RETAIL crime rose 10 per cent to £1.1bn last year, according to a report published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today.

The biggest share of this figure is shoplifting, which accounts for 94 per cent of all retail crime incidents and £462m in lost sales, said the BRC’s Retail Crime Survey 2009.

The BRC said this figure is equivalent to 72,000 lost retail jobs.

The report also shows that violence against staff also rose last year.

Physical violence against shop staff rose 58 per cent, and verbal abuse rose by 37 per cent.

At least 22,000 retail employees suffered threats, physical or verbal attacks. The report goes on to say that the actual figure is probably much higher as a good deal of abuse goes unreported.

In total, the BRC says there were over one million shoplifting incidents last year, with one occurring nearly every minute.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “Shoplifting is never victimless or acceptable. The cash costs are met by honest customers who end up paying more and the human costs by shop staff who intervene.”

He added: “We need tougher sentencing to deter thieves and more consistent use of fixed penalty notices between police forces. Too many fines for shoplifting remain unpaid. We need more effective enforcement so they aren’t devalued as a deterrent.”

The BRC report found that although shoplifting accounted for 42 per cent of the value of all retail crime, a further 35 per cent was due to fraud, and nine per cent came from burglaries.