Crime against convenience retailers cost the sector an estimated £232m last year, or £4,600 per store, according to the (ACS) Association of Convenience Store’s Crime Report 2017.

The report identified that the total annual cost of shop theft to the convenience sector is over £131m (£2,600 per store), with the most commonly-stolen items being alcohol, meat and confectionery. 

There was an estimated 9,400 incidents of violent crime against staff and storeowners last year, an increase of 10%. The report revealed that c-store staff and owners had a 43% chance of being the victims of abuse and a 19% chance of being victims of violent crime.

Speaking at the ACS Crime Seminar, Julian Taylor-Green, owner of Taylor-Green’s Spar in Lindford, Hampshire, voiced concern over police resources. 

Julian said: “What I find most alarming is that physical and verbal abuse is on the rise. There is insufficient policing out on the streets and I feel sorry for the police officers because I know it is challenging. 

“We are left to our own devices when reporting crime and have to get a pack ready to be taken forward. We phone everything through, Hampshire doesn’t have online capabilities yet. We send CCTV footage and 50% of the time we don’t hear back. We have a reasonably good relationship but share a mutual frustration of lack of resources to tackle crime.” 

Sussex Police are one of eight police forces that have rolled out online reporting platforms to victims of crime, after experiencing a 21% abandonment rate in 101 calls. 

Steve Nichols, business engagement manager for Sussex Police, said: “A total of 79% of shoplifting is reported by phone and we have seen an uplift in online reporting. remains committed to establishing a national single platform for online reporting, it is about establishing this over the next few years. Business crime accounts for 21% of all crime in Sussex, with 46% against the retail sector.” 

Of the 7,123 convenience stores surveyed, 15% said that they had experienced an increase in theft incidents, while 35% said the number of incidents stayed the same compared to the previous year. Staff theft cost the sector £61m with over 21,000 counts recorded in the sector last year.

Sarah Newton MP, minister for vulnerability, safeguarding and countering extremism, said: “This government is acting to tackle both violent and retail crime, by identifying what drives criminals and bringing together new research, techniques and technology to prevent offending and bring perpetrators to justice. We are working closely with police and retailers to improve our understanding of the nature of crimes against the sector. Just last month our work with police and petrol station retailers, led by ACS, saw us introduce new measures to tackle petrol theft.”

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “Over the last year, many retailers have reported a significant increase in the level of crime against their stores. Shop theft is not a victimless crime, and must be taken seriously by the police. The current laws around shop theft do not adequately capture those who are repeat offenders stealing low value items (less than £200) on a regular basis, and we believe this needs to change. We encourage retailers to build relationships with their local police forces.”