2013 saw the highest level of retail theft for nine years as the average value of theft rose by 62 per cent to £177 per incident.
“Sophisticated and well-planned criminals” are conning shoppers, employees and businesses through fraud and e-crime, according to the BRC Retail Crime Survey.
Branded electrical goods, designer clothing, handbags and power tools were among the most popular stolen items, while organised groups are now more willing to travel further to commit such thefts.
Fraud accounted for 41 per cent of the total cost of crime in 2012-13.
“We all pay for this increased stealing through higher prices and, increasingly, shop closures and damage to town centres as safety is reduced and communities are blighted,” said Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium.
“Last year we also saw a dramatic increase in fraud and e-crime with eight in ten retailers reporting a rise in fraud and the majority of retailers telling us that cyber-attacks pose a critical threat to their business. Combined with the increase in organised theft, this means that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal.”
The BRC says that despite retailers investing £2m a year into crime and loss prevention, they “need help and support.”
It is estimated there were 2.7m offences in 2012-13 against retailers as robberies rose 48 per cent, but burglaries fell 49 per cent compared to last year.