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Independents winning battle against shop crime but alcohol still a major target for thieves

Published:  10 March, 2015

Investing in crime prevention measures like CCTV has seen the number of independent retailers that have been victims of shop theft fall from 91% in 2012 to 74% in 2014, but alcohol still remains one of the major problem areas, according to new figures.

The results of the Association of Convenience Stores latest Crime Survey show that great steps have been taken in cutting shop theft, but with three quarters of retailers still reporting problems there is much to do.

The ACS has found that on average each independent store has invested over £1,700 over the last year in crime prevention measures such as CCTV, product tagging and anti-theft devices.

This has resulted in a significant drop in theft, with the convenience sector seeing a fall from £44m to £35m a year in money lost to shop crime.

The most commonly stolen products in convenience stores were higher value items such as alcohol, wines, spirits, meat and cheese.

The ACS stressed this is an ongoing problem as the majority of theft against local stores is not opportunists or first time offenders, but 70% of it is premeditated either individually or as part of organised gangs.

The ACS has again called for retailers to get more help from the police and justice system. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice last year showed that almost half of all 'on the spot' fines issued to criminals were left unpaid.

James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, said: "Shop theft is not a victimless crime, and despite the success of investment in crime prevention measures our sector still has to deal with £35m worth of goods being taken from shelves.

"We know from our survey that a significant proportion of criminals are stealing products from stores to fund other criminal activity. Shop theft is a gateway offence that can lead to much more serious crime, so it's essential that these people are taken seriously by the justice system."