A new report has revealed that shoplifting levels in the UK have doubled in the last year.
The crime report by the Association of Convenience Stores detailed a staggering 13,437 incidents of violence over the last year – although the group believes that many more more have gone unreported.
The report also claims that shop theft was the biggest cause of aggressive behaviour in UK stores, with retailers revealing that violence against staff is their biggest concern when it comes to dealing with thefts in convenience stores across the UK.
Specifically, there was an estimated 950,000 incidents of theft in the last year, a rise of almost fifty percent on the 575,000 incidents reported in 2016.
It is also claimed that 36 percent of crimes are fuelled by opportunism, which is closely followed by addiction fuelling 32 percent of crimes and organised gangs reflecting 22 percent of incidents.
The research also revealed that the total cost of crimes committed against the convenience sector over the last year was a staggering £193m, which effectively equates to a 7p ‘crime tax’ on every transaction in stores.
ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said: ‘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 the sale of age restricted products like tobacco and alcohol, or refusing to serve people that are intoxicated.
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‘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.
‘Shop thefts especially are often being committed by people that are dependent on drugs or alcohol, or part of an organised gang, with many now unafraid to turn to violence when challenged. Allowing shop theft to go unpunished means that these people go on to commit other offences, and where they have addiction problems they are not treated.
‘We need fresh thinking from government and the police, because when shop theft is not tackled properly, it has wider implications for communities.’