The poll of 100 retailers by market research company The Knowledge Store revealed that 20% witness a shoplifting incident in their stores every day, while a further 6% experience shop theft twice a week, and 13% weekly. Half of all retailers surveyed had seen an increase in shoplifting in the past 12 months, and only 11% had experienced a decrease.
Most retailers believe the police don't treat shoplifting seriously enough, and this is reflected in the figures that show 64% try to physically apprehend an offender themselves, while only 30% rely on CCTV evidence, and 41% claim that evidence they've presented to the police hasn't been used. A worrying 63% say physically apprehending a thief has led to violence.
A high proportion find reporting to the police a pointless exercise, and 46% don't report thefts. And of those that do, 34% claim it never leads to a conviction, and a further 23% say a successful prosecution happens less than 10% of the time.
One retailer quizzed for the survey said: "The time it takes the police to get to you is appalling. The incident can have been and gone and they still haven't answered the phone. We do report to the police but it's a waste of time. I spent all day in court when we prosecuted after one incident and the case was dropped because it was a first offence."
Another said: "We do physically apprehend offenders ourselves, but we've had someone pull a knuckle duster on us so we just let them go."
The Association of Convenience Stores is using the survey in its response to the Sentencing Review Panel's consultation on the sentencing guidelines for store theft. The ACS is calling on ministers to back a range of measures including retaining the option of jail sentences for the worst shop thieves; encouraging better enforcement levels among police forces through better recording methods; and ensuring that shop theft is seen as central to detecting and preventing anti-social behaviour.
Following a meeting with the panel, James Lowman, new chief executive of the ACS, said: "The panel was keen to hear our views and we hope we were able to make the case why magistrate's courts should have the option of custodial sentences."
Jonathan James, an independent retailer from Soham, Cambridgeshire, also attended the meeting. He said: "Like other retailers I am concerned about the possible removal of custodial sentences and am pleased the panel listened to our point of view."
SHOPLIFTING: THE FACTS20%of retailers experience shoplifting daily
63%said physically apprehending an offender had led to violence
46%don't believe reporting shoplifting to police is worthwhile
34%of those who do report it, claim it never leads to a conviction