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Retail crime tops £600 million according to BRC survey

A new survey from the British Retail Consortium has revealed that the impact of theft on UK retailers has reached its highest level in a decade.

According to the BRC's latest Retail Crime Survey, the average value of each theft in-store has increased by 36% to £241 per incident, helping to push the direct cost of retail crime up to £603 million in 2013-14.

The BRC said the vast majority of respondents also reported suffering increasing levels of fraud, most of which is now committed online. Retailers warned that they expect fraud to pose the single most significant threat to their business over the next two years.

The trends are thought to be partly a result of retailers being targeted by more organised, sophisticated criminals. The BRC has recommended that dedicated strategies to tackle business crime need to be developed by police around the country, in close partnership with businesses. It said a fundamental part of this approach is to ensure that data on business crime is properly collected and analysed by police, to enable it to be used to inform operational activity.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “Criminal activity against UK retailers continues to have wide-ranging consequences for businesses, employees and the vast majority of honest shoppers. The average cost to retailers of theft has now reached £241 per incident, the highest in a decade. Fraud committed online also continues to rise.

“It is clear that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal. Despite an average investment of £2 million per business in crime and loss prevention, retailers need help and support to respond to the threat. Police and Crime Commissioners should follow the lead set by the Mayor of London and work with retailers to develop dedicated business crime strategies to help tackle this growing problem.”

The BRC found that there were an estimated three million offences against UK retailers in 2013-14. The survey also shows that fraud increased by 12% in the period and accounted for 37% of the total cost of retail crime. In addition, there were 32 incidents of violence and abuse per 1,000 employees in 2013-14.

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