Criminal activity costs retailers £603m » SMEInsider

Criminal activity costs retailers £603m

Theft and fraud are hitting UK retailers hard, with 3m crimes totalling losses of £603m in 2013-2014.

The average value of goods stolen from stores increased 36% to £241, according to the latest findings by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). These take the number of thefts experienced by retailers to the highest point in a decade.

40% of theft was found to be conducted by organised gangs, mostly targeting electrical goods, designer clothes, power tools and cosmetics.

The BRC’s Crime Survey also found that retailers are being caught out by rising rates of fraud, most of which takes place online and is becoming increasingly sophisticated. The majority of those surveyed said that they expected fraud to constitute the biggest threat to their business over the next two years.

Helen Dickinson, Director General of the BRC, said in a statement that, despite investing an average of £2m per business to try and prevent crime, retailers still “need help and support to respond to the threat.

Police and Crime Commissioners should follow the lead set by the Mayor of London and work with retailers to develop dedicated business crime strategies to help tackle this growing problem,” she said.

Commenting on the findings, John Marsden, identity and fraud expert at the consumer analytics firm Equifax, said that the record rise in retail fraud is “no surprise”. This, he says, is driven by a “vast” trade in credit and debit card information, which makes payment data available via carders markets.

The retail sector has always been perceived as having a relatively low level of risk for a prospective fraudster,” he said. “Equally, the actual perpetrating of a retail fraud is not complex and appeals to a wide population of fraudsters. Businesses need to be more aware and fully understand the risks open to them, taking appropriate steps to mitigate these.”