1 February 2016 - Janet Bird
The cost of retail crime hit its highest ever level last year - a staggering £613 million.
The annual retail crime survey carried out by the British Retail Consortium found instances of fraud - including cyber crime - had soared by 55 percent and now accounted for a third (36 percent) of the cost, although theft by customers still accounted for the vast majority of offences (83 percent).
A surge in luxury and high tech goods being stolen by increasingly sophisticated criminal gangs was also blamed for driving retail crime figures up two percent on the previous year.
The increase in this type of crime, which is now believed to account for 40 percent of offences, meant that, although the total number of crimes fell for the second year running to 750,144, the average value of goods stolen went up over a third to £325 per incident.
Worryingly, the survey also showed that violence against shop staff is also on the rise, up 28 percent from the previous year. Survey respondents reported that violence featured in 41 out of every 1,000 offences committed, compared to 32 out of 1,000 in 2014.