High Streets Initiative · 26 March 2018

Local shopkeepers hit with almost one million thefts in a year

ACS research shows a reported 72 per cent of corner shop staff have experienced verbal abuse within the last year.

The number of shop thefts committed against retailers over the last year has risen to nearly one million, new survey findings have revealed.

The Association of Convenience Stores’ (ACS)  2018 Crime Report has revealed there were over 950,000 incidents of theft estimated over the last year, doubling from 575,000 in the previous year.

The top three reasons reported by retailers as to why people steal from their stores being opportunism, motivation by drugs or alcohol addiction and organized groups of criminals.

There were also an estimated 13,437 incidents of violence reported over the last year, the report found, although it is likely that many more have gone unreported.

Commenting on the report, ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “Retailers and their staff are on the front line in stores, enforcing the law and protecting their businesses from theft and other crimes.

“While convenience stores are community hubs and are a safe place to work, and run a business, unfortunately sometimes violence and abuse against retailers and their staff does occur.”

ACS research shows a reported 72 per cent of corner shop staff have experienced verbal abuse within the last year and 39 per cent of violent incidents resulted in injury.

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There were a reported 3,690 incidents of theft where a weapon was used – in 64 per cent of these cases the offender used a knife.

Other weapon choices consisted of axes, screwdrivers, hammers and real or imitation firearms.

Dealing with shop thieves ranked as the number one trigger for violence and verbal abuse in convenience stores.

“Retailers and their staff are facing violence and abuse on a regular basis for enforcing the law, whether it be through challenging shop thieves, refusing sale of the age restricted products like tobacco or alcohol, or refusing to serve people that are intoxicated,” Lowman said.

“Retailers need a consistent response from the police to ensure that when a crime is committed against a retailer it is taken seriously by the police and the courts.”

The financial costs of retail crime for local shops is considerable, equivalent to a 7p crime tax per transaction.

Crimes against convenience stores costs an overall 193m to the sector, averaging at £3,873 per store.

Lowman added: “The figures in our Crime Report provide an important insight into what retailers face when dealing with crime, but we expect the true impact to be much larger as a lack of faith in the consistency of police response has led to many incidents going unreported.”

The ACS has published an animated video to help local shopkeepers manage respond to violence and abuse.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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