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Retail crime rates jump

Rates of shoplifting in Australia and New Zealand have increased by 16% in less than two years.

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The first dedicated retail crime survey for Australian and New Zealand retailers has revealed a dramatic increase in customer theft, which now accounts for over 50% of revenue lost from stores from crime. The majority of these losses have been attributed to customer theft that has jumped 16% in less than two years.

Telecommunication stores suffer the highest average value of theft, estimated to be more than $1000 per incident while self-service checkouts continue to be vulnerable. Retailers are responding by introducing more POS video analytics including cameras that film customers at each individual machine.

Only 20%of retailers said they were happy with law enforcement response to this rise in crime, while 67%retailers reported that it was difficult to combat shoplifters with their current resources because of the diverse and sophisticated ways that criminals are now targeting retailers.

Commenting on the study, University of London lead researcher Dr Emmeline Taylor said thieves are becoming more brazen. “We have seen this in the recent ‘steaming’ technique used by gangs to overpower mobile phone shops in broad daylight, often intimidating staff and pushing customers out of the way to reach stock,” Taylor said.

Checkpoint Systems Australia, vice president Mark Gentle said the study showed that thieves have upped their game and retailers need to adapt to stay ahead. Loss prevention technologies are still the best deterrents for opportunistic shoplifters and when combined with good customer service will often significantly reduce theft in stores, he said.

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“These findings should encourage retailers to invest in further theft prevention measures. There has been a major focus on cybercrime and cybersecurity in retail. Yet this push towards protecting digital assets has apparently left a gaping hole for shoplifters to take advantage of gaps in retailer’s security in stores.”

The Australia and New Zealand Retail Crime Survey, conducted by Aptus Research and sponsored by technology company Checkpoint Systems, represented almost a quarter of the retail industry in Australia and New Zealand. The study estimates that crime-related loss is 0.92% of revenue, revealing a $3.37 billion direct cost of crime to the industry in the 2017-2018 financial year.

This article was republished with permission from Appliance Retailer.

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