Store owners have been urged to crack down on the threat from within as a survey by G4S security revealed that over one in 10 UK retail workers have committed a crime against their employer in the last 12 months.

The most common crime was consuming produce in-store without paying for it, with 160,000 employees confessing to this. Almost a quarter of those who admitted stealing from their employer claimed that "they worked so hard for the company that they deserved it" and others said they stole because they felt it wouldn't matter to the retailer.

Head of criminology at the University of Leicester Adrian Beck said that retailers often turn a blind eye to staff theft. "Staff dishonesty is the gorilla in the corner of the store most see it, but few like to discuss it and even fewer are willing to take it on," he said. "This survey shows the importance of understanding all the threats faced by retailers and highlights the danger of assuming that retail losses are predominantly due to external thieves."

G4S sales and marketing director Douglas Greenwell said retailers need to focus on eliminating staff theft "by screening employees wherever possible and employing sophisticated security solutions, not merely focused on areas frequented by customers."