Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Shoplifting is on the rise as downturn bites harder

A High Street
There is now one shop crime every minute - 24 hours a day

Retailers have reported a sharp surge in shoplifting during the recession.

The latest crime survey by the trade body the British Retail Consortium shows thefts by customers jumped by a third between 2008 and 2009.

Violence against staff also increased. Shopkeepers are asking the police to do more to protect them and their stock.

The BRC's research found there were almost half a million thefts - almost one a minute - something they say costs their industry £1.1bn ($1.7bn).

It could be far higher as many crimes are not reported. Pessimists suggest it could even be double this reported rate.

Physical attacks

More seriously for retailers on a personal level, violence and verbal abuse also rose significantly.

At least 22,000 staff nationwide say they have been targeted by customers.

Stephen Robertson, of the BRC, said police and others in the criminal justice system do not take store crime seriously enough.

He said: "It's shocking that a shop theft happens almost every minute, 24 hours a day... The police and criminal justice system must take retail theft more seriously."

The figures were revealed in a BRC survey of 60 major stores who employ 1.1 million staff and represent almost half the market.

You pay

Mr Robertson said shoplifting was not, according to the popular saying, a "victimless crime".

He said: "Whatever the motivation, shoplifting is never victimless or acceptable. The cash costs are met by honest customers who end up paying more and the human costs by shop staff who intervene."

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