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Crime against businesses: findings from the 2016 Commercial Victimisation Survey

16 June 2017

Wholesale and retail premises experienced 5.2 million crimes in the year prior to interview. Of these, four-fifths (81%) of incidents were thefts and, specifically, just over two-thirds (67%) were theft by customers (i.e. shoplifting, 3.5 million incidents). This proportion of crime attributed to thefts by customers is statistically significantly smaller than that in the 2015 survey (72%), however it is higher compared with earlier survey years (in which it ranged from 51% to 55% of all crime).


Crime against the wholesale & retail sector fell between 2012 and 2014 but has since shown no statistically significant change. The sector experienced a large statistically significant fall between 2012 and 2014, from 7.7 million incidents in 2012 to 4.1 million incidents in 2014. Although the trend appears to have shown an increase between 2014 and 2016, with 5.2 million incidents of crime in 2016, the change is not statistically significant.


The proportion of premises experiencing crime has fallen since 2012. In 2016, 37 per cent of premises in this sector experienced a crime, a statistically significant fall of 16 percentage points from the 2012 CVS when over half (53%) of premises experienced a crime.


The average cost of shoplifting incidents has increased. The median average cost of shoplifting per victim was £237 in 2012 increasing to £500 in 2016, whilst the median average cost per incident has also shown an increase from £35 in 2012 to £54 in 2016 CVS. Furthermore, the proportion of shoplifting incidents that involved items worth over £50 increased from 38% in 2012 to 50% in 2016, a statistically significant change.


Food and grocery items were most commonly stolen in shoplifting incidents. Over a quarter (27%) of all shoplifting incidents involved food and grocery items in 2016. The majority of premises (71%) reported that the food and grocery items stolen were typically low value items (such as milk or bread). 


Larger businesses in this sector experienced higher crime rates. In 2016, premises in the wholesale and retail sector with 50 or more employees experienced around five times as many crimes on average than those with 10-49 employees, and around 42 times more than those with 1-9 employees.


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