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Retail crime climbing, says survey

Shoplifting, burglaries and criminal damage to shops have all increased over the past twelve months, according to the latest Retail Crime Survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

This reveals an annual 15.6% increase in the cost of retail crime – it now stands at a whopping £1.6 billion – and a big drop in the number of incidents that are reported to the police.


Twenty-eight percent of the losses, and 83% of all the incidents of retail crime, were caused by shoplifting or customer theft, says the BRC. In total, there were 612,819 reported incidents in 2011-2012, amounting to a rise of 59% in the number of incidents per 100 stores. The value of the items stolen increased too – up nearly 28% to an average of £109.19.

Employee theft

While the number of offences committed by employees increased from 5.2 offences per 1,000 employees in 2011 to 10.2 incidents per 1,000 employees in 2012, employee theft was responsible for only 4% of the total value of retail crime. Having said this, the value of the items stolen increased from an average of £342 in 2011 to an average of £1,577 in 2012.


There was little change in the number of robberies per 100 stores (4.8) between 2011 and 2012, although the cost per robbery increased 204% over the same period – up to an average of £3,005. Overall, however, robberies accounted for only 0.7% of the total value of retail crime.


In contrast, the number of burglaries nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012, while the average cost of each burglary dropped to £1,730 – down 17%.

Criminal damage

The number of incidents of criminal damage also increased – up 140% from 32.6 incidents per 100 stores in 2011 to 78.3 incidents per 100 stores. Forty-four percent of these incidents came in the form of attempted burglary.

Fraud and e-crime

By value, 26% of the retail crime committed between 2011 and 2012 came in the form of fraud, while e-crime accounted for 37%. In terms of actual incidents, 15% of all retail crime over the period was down to fraud, with identity fraud identified by retailers as a growing issue.

“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,” said British Retail Consortium Director General, Helen Dickinson.