Shoplifters Booming During Recession

By J.C Dick

The Centre for Retail Research today released figures for the first half of 2009 that show a hike of 20% in the value of stolen retail goods. The total value of shoplifted goods in the UK hit £4.88bn, making Britain the biggest victims of shoplifters in Europe, and third biggest globally bettered only by the US and Japan globally.

Global Retail Theft Barometer (Courtesy BBC)

This rise in value of stolen retail goods does not necessarily correlate to a rise in the number of shoplifting incidents, according to data on what goods are actually stolen it is actually the price of goods being stolen that has risen. This statistic points to a shocking revelation that during the recession shoplifting among the ‘middle class’ has spiked dramatically.

Neil Matthews, Vice President of Checkpoint Systems who commissioned the report, said that the rise was “epitomised in the recent uprising of the middle-class shoplifter, someone who has turned to theft to sustain their standard of living. This is driving theft of items such as cosmetics, perfumes and face creams, alcohol, fresh meat, mobile phones, computer games and DVDs, as well as small electrical goods like cameras, iPods and personal care gadgets.”

However, despite the rise in thefts to maintain standards of living, thefts carried out by employees still massively outstrip ‘external’ thefts in value. The study shows that the average shoplifting value was £80.31, but average employee theft was a massive £1,595.66 per incident in the UK.

During a recession this is a particularly worrying trend as retailers look to minimise losses across the board they are forced to invest more money in security with an estimated £926m being spent last year on measures such as CCTV, security staff, and electronic tags. As Mr Matthews of Checkpoint Systems says “Retailers simply cannot afford to ignore this problem, it is not going to go away and is the equivalent of criminals taxing every UK household £227 per year.”