By Gemma Taylor - Big-name retailers from the DIY & building sector have joined forces in an attempt to reduce theft from their stores and yards, as the price of copper sky-rockets.
The DIY and Building Trade Loss Prevention Forum, including members from B&Q, Homebase and Wickes parent firm Travis Perkins, has been formed to prevent crime committed against businesses. Members will share best practice and data to help thwart thieves and reduce losses in their stores and yards.
The global scrap price of metal is a factor in the increased crime rate, as the price of copper is expected to reach £7,000 a ton by the end of 2011. DIY store staff are now on the lookout for thieves who hide copper tubing inside plastic drain pipes, asking till staff to scan the plastic while it is still in their trolley to avoid detection.
‘Drive-offs’ are also on the rise, as opportunistic thieves load up flat-bed lorries and leave scrap yards without paying.
Jim McKenna, Head of Group Security at Travis Perkins and the newly-elected chair of the forum, pointed out that the problem extends to poor practice standards among staff that facilitate criminal practices. He said: “We have come together to fight criminal practices and share intelligence from our businesses.
“The building trade works a lot on generous credit terms with small to medium-sized businesses and some of the procedures have, in some instances, been subject to abuse over the years and require attention.
“This is not necessarily theft, but simply bad practice that has developed unchecked. Putting this right…requires a behaviour change and winning over the hearts and minds in our sector which is what collaboration as a sector is all about.”
The forum’s intention to fight rising crime comes at a time when delinquency is high on the retail agenda, following the criminal damage and looting that took place during the recent UK riots.
The new forum is facilitated by ex-DIY sector employee Anne Davies, who now works for loss prevention specialists Oris.
Acknowledging that the protection of property is paramount for the new forum, she said: “The size of the premises and the staff required to offer customer service, present a number of challenges in terms of security and compliance and, like with the other sector-specific loss prevention forums that we facilitate regularly, it is encouraging to see the sector working on those issues in a collaborative fashion.”