Published on 16 - January - 2012
Number of burglaries drop but cost to retailers is greaterThe BRC's Retail Crime Survey has today revealed that the overall cost of retail crime has soared to £1.4bn, as the sector is increasingly targeted by "serious, organised criminals".
The figure reported includes the value of goods stolen and damage done to retail outlets, combined with the money spent out by businesses in a bid to prevent and help tackle crime.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Crime Survey 2011, published today, revealed fewer incidents for many types of crime but found that each incident had been more costly to retail victims, resulting in a sharp increase in total losses compared with the previous year.
The number of burglaries per 100 stores was down 42% in 2011. However, the cost retailers experienced per incident rose sharply, up 83%, according to the survey. The average value of goods taken in a burglary now sits at more than £2,000.
The estimated total value of goods stolen by customers across the whole sector was reported as more than £147m, up £10m on the previous year. Customer theft accounted for nearly 60% of the cost of crime for the retailers in the BRC's survey, with more than one incident taking place every minute. While the number of incidents fell by 19% in 2011, losses still rose, as the cost to retailers per incident jumped 21% from £70.44 in 2010 to £85.50 last year.
The number of robberies increased by 20% in 2011, with the average cost per incident increasing 17% from £847 to £989. Most worrying, said the BRC, was the increase in reports of weapons and physical violence being used by assailants.
More than 35,000 retail workers suffered physical attacks, verbal abuse and anti-social behaviour during the course of the year - a figure that excludes those staff affected by the August riots. The survey recorded 26 incidents per 1,000 employees last year, although the significant 83% increase has been attributed to a growing number of retailers encouraging their staff to report such incidents.
Just last month an employee at Frosts Garden Centre was bound and held at gunpoint when a robber targeted the business in Woburn Sands. While no arrests have been made, a police spokesperson told DIY Week that the investigation is ongoing and that detectives are examining CCTV footage and DNA evidence from the scene.
CCTV footage could also prove useful in the case of what appears to be an organised gang targeting garden centres across the West Midlands. In October, DIY Week reported that two garden centres in the Bromsgrove area had been burgled in the same night, with CCTV showing a hooded gang, armed with iron bars, breaking into one of the centres, Fresh@Burcot. Owner and GIMA director Neil Gow told DIY Week at the time: "It's a professional gang who are doing the rounds it would seem. As I understand it, nine garden centres have been hit so far - fro m the Welsh borders to the East Midlands." Other well-known garden centres that have been targeted, possibly by the same gang, include Stephen H Smith in Bolton, Garden & Leisure Group and three Garden Centre Group outlets. Talking to DIY Week this morning, a spokesperson for West Mercia Police said there were no further leads in the case.
According to Retail Crime Survey, expenditure by retail businesses on crime prevention was also found to have increased by 1.4% to £214m - an average spend of £70,000 per company. This has substantially reduced incidents of opportunistic crime against stores, said the BRC. However, it believes businesses require the support of the police and Government in combating the rise in violent crimes that retailers and their staff are exposed to.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "Retailers have made significant investment to protect their staff, stock and premises from opportunistic crime. The falling number of many types of crimes is testament to the sector's own efforts. What is left is a core of more serious and organised criminals who are making off with goofs in larger quantities and of higher value. These are violent law-breakers who pose a danger to society at large, not solely the retail sector."
He added: "An understanding of the link between retail crime and serious, organised crime is particularly important, as the Government moves forward with its plans for a National Crime agency and directly elected police and crime commissioners. Retail crime doesn't only affect shops and retail staff. It impacts directly on communities, does further damage to our struggling high streets and encourages wide criminal activity. Anyone deciding local policing priorities needs to recognise this and give retail crime the priority it deserves."
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