From your local diner to the corner shop to veterinary clinics, small businesses across the country are targeted by common shoplifters — and most of them are repeat offenders.
James Lowman, executive chairman of the Association of Convenience Stores, says more needs to be done to help those struggling to keep their employees safe while struggling to keep their businesses afloat.
He says, “Theft is not a victimless crime, it takes a huge financial and personal toll on retailers trying to run small businesses in their communities.”
“A startling new report from the Association of Convenience Stores has revealed that crime will cost convenience stores around £100m in 2022. There were almost a million registered thefts in stores this year.
Deadly threats, blatant theft
“While retail giants like Tesco have the budgets and staff to fight crime and outfit their security teams with state-of-the-art body cameras, small shops can’t afford it and it’s costing them a fortune in their hard-won revenue.”
“More than half (53 percent) of thieves are repeat offenders – usually well known in the area – and trust they will not be held accountable.
“Theft is also the single largest trigger for co-worker abuse and violent incidents in stores.
“I’ve heard reports of hammers, dirty needles and knives being used to threaten store employees if they don’t open the checkout.
“Convenience retailers are most concerned about the penalties imposed on offenders, the time it takes for police to respond to incidents, and the lack of a visible police presence in the community.”
“Thieves are so brazen — sometimes stealing to order or to fund drug addiction — that they break into small shops, take heaps of products off the shelves, put them in a bag, and then walk out, often without trying to hide, what they are.” do.
“They steal things that they can resell.
“High quality items such as meats, cheeses, toiletries, coffee, alcohol and tobacco.
“I have heard reports of thieves pulling up vans in front of a supermarket with their company name and number on the side, then going in, wearing t-shirts with company branding on them, stuffing their bags with items and leaving. In broad daylight.
“What we need is a targeted approach to stop the repeat offenders who routinely steal without fear of being caught by the police.
“Some businesses have a ‘no challenge policy’ as they are afraid of threats of violence and, yes, people are more important than property. But the shoplifters know they won’t be challenged and take advantage of it.
“Reporting a crime to the police can often be a tricky and time-consuming process, so these thefts are treated as petty crime and may not be thoroughly investigated.
“The results of our 2023 Crime Report show that there were over 41,000 incidents of violence in the convenience sector last year and 13 percent of the violent incidents resulted in injuries.
“Retailers have continued to invest in their stores to protect their colleagues and customers – but they need support.
“So we are calling on the police and government to do more to take retail crime seriously and support local businesses.
“We want every police district to have a list of the most wanted shoplifters.
“This means serious offenders can be banned from retail areas or referred to rehabilitation programmes.
“It would mean that local police would post mug shots on their website for retailers to spot – and even get an order to ban them from their store.”
Make the criminals known
“It also encourages armed forces to use the tools at their disposal to deal with antisocial behavior, such as the Community Trigger and Community Remedy powers.”
“These are tools that the police can use to detect anti-social behavior around a small shop.
“It could be customer harassment or vandalism – but it’s about identifying the small percentage in communities that are responsible for crime.
“Also, new legislation that makes assaulting any employee in public – including store staff – a serious criminal offense needs to be reviewed.
“Finally, there is a need to invest in offender rehabilitation programs to break the cycle of crime and ineffective punishment, and to incentivize investment in crime prevention measures.”
“All of these things combined can be a powerful tool to fight small store theft and win the nationwide battle against small store crime.”