Shoplifting Levels Decline But 2.4m Brits Still Admit To It

Despite the recession, the number of people admitting to shoplifting has declined by almost 8% over the past 12 months, according to the Sixth Annual Retail Crime Survey1 by G4S Secure Solutions (UK) (‘G4S’). However, retail shrinkage remains a significant issue with approximately 2.4 million British adults admitting to shoplifting goods valued at over £650 million, down from around £780 million last year.

Although overall levels of shoplifting appear to be down, G4S is warning that the pressure to give expensive presents, despite many family budgets being stretched to breaking point, is tempting thousands of Britons to shoplift.  Research reveals almost 500,000 adults admit they would consider shoplifting this festive season to provide a present for a friend or family member.

Larger retailers are particularly at risk as the survey reveals that over the last 12 months around one in ten (12%) shoplifters stole because they believed the ‘store was a big retailer so it would not matter’, says G4S.While the majority admit to stealing items worth between £1 and £25, over 60,000 people admitted to stealing goods worth more than £500 in total during the last 12 months.

Douglas Greenwell, Sales & Marketing Director, G4S Secure Solutions (UK) said: “Shoplifting remains a major threat to retailers and is a particular problem around Christmas and the festive sales period.  It’s a real concern that so many people would consider stealing items as gifts for friends and family and we urge consumers to be vigilant to shoplifting if they are doing last minute shopping.  Ultimately, consumers pay for stolen goods as retailers look to recoup their losses from this type of crime. Although retail outlets already devote significant resources to tackling the problem of shrinkage from shoplifting, it’s clear that some retailers are seen as a soft target by would be shoplifters.”

Reasons why respondents said they had shoplifted Number of GB adults
I removed it accidentally from the store 1.7 million
The store was a big retailer so I didn’t think it would matter 293,000
I didn’t have the money to purchase the item 172,000
I thought the item was overpriced 154,000
I thought I could get away with it as there wasn’t much security 142,000
I did it for the thrill 81,000
I have lost my job so money is tight 67,000
Peer group pressure 19,000
To resell the item to raise money 19,000
Can’t afford the items but don’t want to sacrifice my standard of living 15,000

Professor Martin Gill, Director of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International (PRCI), commented: “These findings are a timely reminder that some people consider retailers fair game when it comes to theft. The more stores can make it difficult to remove items, even accidentally, the greater the opportunity to prevent theft. Properly trained and motivated staff alongside appropriate security solutions that work are essential requirements for all retailers to ensure they minimise the chances of them being victims of shoplifting. If they don’t, offenders are likely to find them an easy target.”

G4S is urging all retailers to review their security procedures and to take proactive steps to mitigate the risk of retail theft by ensuring that they have robust security protocols.  These should include visible security officers who are trained to look out for shoplifters, electronic surveillance such as CCTV and alarm systems and covert security. It says that there are a number of basic steps that small retailers can take to reduce losses such as removing expensive merchandise from near shop entrances and ensuring clear sight lines throughout a store.

G4S Website