Retailers saw a 15.6 per cent increase in the cost of retail crime last year but were reluctant to report it, a survey released today has shown.
Crime cost retailers £1.6 billion last year with customer thefts accounting for 83 per cent of all incidents, according to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Retail Crime Survey 2012.
Shoplifters were also shown to be targeting more expensive items, as the average cost of goods stolen in each incident increased by 28 per cent to £109.
But only 12 per cent of customer thefts were reported in 2012, compared with 47 per cent in 2011, suggesting a lack of confidence in police responses.
BRC Director-General Helen Dickinson expressed her concern that the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), who make decisions about crime-fighting priorities in local areas, were not aware of the scale of the problem due to this lack of reporting.
Dickinson commented: “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.”
In London, where the Metropolitan Police is responsible for crime-fighting agendas, the Mayor’s office has recognised retail crime as a priority following engagement with the BRC, the pressure group said, but outside the capital there is still work to be done.
As costs increased for all crimes except shop break-ins, e-crime proved the most expensive for retailers, making up 37 per cent of the total cost of crime.
E-crime was the subject of a separate BRC survey for the first time in August 2012, which showed that crime cost the e-tail sector £204.5 million in a year, equalling 0.75 per cent of sales.
Retailers also spent seven per cent more on crime prevention in 2012 than 2011, with the average retailer spending £750,000.
Dickinson said: “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 the confidence to report crime and that action will be taken against those responsible for it.”