UK Retailers Suffer Highest Level of Theft in Nine Years


An increase in old-school crime caused UK retailers to suffer their highest level of theft in nine years in 2012-13, according to a new survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). There were more than 630,000 incidents of theft, and thefts per 100 stores increased 5% over 2011-2012.

The annual BRC Retail Crime Survey found that a spike in shoplifting helped push losses over over £511m, 166% higher than in 2007-2008. It is estimated there were 2.7m offences. However, only one retailer in 10 (9%) reported customer theft offences to police.

Last year also saw a 15% increase in fraud, which accounted for 41% of the total cost of retail crime. Fully 80% of retailers reported a rise, including increased threats from cyberattacks.

Alexon Bell, fraud specialist at the Fraud Centre of Excellence, SAS UK & Ireland, commented that retailers are facing a barrage of threats from criminals who are using increasingly sophisticated methods to attack from all angles. “The sheer volume of online orders that retailers deal with means that fraudsters can often ‘slip through the cracks’ and remain undetected,” said Bell. “That said, retailers cannot afford to hide away from the impact this could have on their business whether the fraudster is an opportunistic citizen, organised gang or internal perpetrator. Failure to plan for these incidences can have major consequences for the business bottom line.”

Bell advises retailers to embrace available data and use analytics to identify and prevent fraud, quickly and automatically. “The use of big data analytics gives retailers the power to gain insights into fraud, so they can enforce a zero tolerance approach by stopping it before it happens. For example, preventing fraud taking place as part of customer orders, in real time, demands advanced analytical modelling techniques and data analysis tools. It is those retailers that can maximise the use of analytics that stand the greatest chance of success.”


Related reading