The retail and wholesale industry experienced more crime than any other business sector last year, a Home Office survey has revealed.

According to the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey, 7.7 million crimes against retail and wholesale premises took place over the past 12 months, representing 84% of all 9.2 million crimes covered in the entire survey.

Shop theft was the main crime committed in the retail and wholesale sector, with 53% of incidents involving theft by customers. The survey also highlighted that the sector was the biggest victim of repeated thefts, with each victim of this crime type experiencing an average of 49 incidents of theft by customers in 2012.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman urged more action from the authorities to combat retail crime. “These are truly shocking figures that highlight the extent of the problem retails are facing from shop theft and repeat victimisation,” he said. “More action is need from police, local authorities and central government to take crime against business more seriously.”

He added that an overhaul of penalties for shop theft should be the top priority. “This must start with a fundamental review of the use of on the spot fines for shop theft – these are overused and ineffective,” said Lowman. “Over half of fixed penalty notices for shop theft of under £200 go unpaid and this farcical situation cannot continue.”