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Shoplifting now among the most common crime against small firms – report

Fresh evidence about the increasing problem of thefts from shops has been revealed amid a warning that organised shoplifting is now among the most common type of crimes against small firms.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said crimes such as organised shoplifting, drained more than £1,000 from over half of small business victims across England and Wales in the last two years.

One in 10 lost more than £10,000 according to new research by the FSB, which added that firms also faced cybercrime and fraud.

The report, based on a survey of 560 small businesses in England and Wales, also revealed a growing number of reports of organised shoplifting and threatening behaviour towards shop owners and their staff.

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More than a third of respondents said they had been affected by at least one traditional crime in the last two years, including vandalism, anti-social behaviour, burglary or robbery.

Among a third of small business victims who reported the crime to the police, three in five said officers did not attend the scene and half believe the police did not investigate after the initial response.

Only 3% said the police investigated and made an arrest.

Tina McKenzie of the FSB said: “We’ve been hearing countless reports of organised shoplifting over the past year, and our study further shows how serious and unprecedented the problem is.

“Witnessing our small high-street shops and independent businesses losing their hard-earned money because these crimes are overlooked by authorities is disheartening, not to mention the mental toll on small business owners and their staff.

“What’s more alarming is the explosive rise in cybercrime and fraud from the persistence of phishing emails to sophisticated invoice fraud.

“As more and more small businesses extend their operations to the virtual world, online services providers that hold personal and financial information must enhance their security measures.”

The report follows similar warnings about shoplifting from retailers and the shopworkers union Usdaw.