Shop theft has risen to its highest level in six years, a government’s survey has revealed.

According to figures released this week by the Office of National Statistics, there were over 313,000 incidents of shop theft in England and Wales in the 12 months to September 2013. This marks a 4% rise in shop theft compared to the previous year.

This rise brings the number of reported incidents to its highest level since 2008 and is in stark contrast to the 15% drop in overall levels of crime reported in the survey.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said the results highlighted the need for action. “These figures show that shop theft is a serious and damaging crime for store owners,” he said. “We must ensure that shop theft is not seen as a victimless crime and we urge Government to ensure that offenders are punished with the full force of the law.”

Recent ACS research found that around 80% of convenience stores were affected by shop theft and cost the industry £44m annually.