Shoplifting can be a very profitable crime for offenders but significantly costly for retailers. In fact, recent research by the 'British Retail Consortium' worryingly showed that shoplifting accounted for £500 million (71%) of the £700 million direct cost incurred from retail crime in the UK between April 2016-March 2017.

Furthermore, in another report, by the 'Association of Convenience Stores' figures reveal that the total cost of shoplifting was on average £1,739 per convenience store. They also discovered that meat was surprisingly the number one product targeted by thieves in convenience stores, followed by cheese and then alcohol.

More general statistics from the Home Office highlight the items which are most commonly stolen in the retail and wholesale sector.

Food or groceries (30%), clothing (15%), alcohol (15%), cosmetics (12%), electrical or electronic equipment (9%), money (6%), home accessories (4%), toiletries (3%), toys (2%), glasses/spectacles (1%) and finally giftware (1%).

With shoplifting continuing to disrupt businesses from flourishing, many retailers are heavily investing in loss prevention measures. These include CCTV’s, mirrors, alarm systems, security tags and shutters. The Home Office findings also show businesses in the retail and the wholesale sector are using such loss prevention methods to primarily protect windows/doors (89%), stock (84%) and outdoor premises (78%).

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Facts and Figures

Utilising data derived from data.police.co.uk, OnBuy wanted to investigate the total number of shoplifting offences that were recorded by 42 police forces/constabularies across England and Wales in the financial year of 2017-18 (April 2017 – March 2018). Shoplifting per the police is defined as the "theft from shops or stalls".

The Findings

The research revealed that the Metropolitan Police had the highest number of shoplifting offences at an astounding 46,840 – the equivalent of 128 incidents a day in the capital. Coming in second was the West Midlands Police, who had 19,851 incidences of shoplifting reported. And in third place, with some of the highest figures for shoplifting recorded was West Yorkshire Police, with 18,491 shoplifting offences recorded.

Dyfed-Powys Police had the lowest number of shoplifting cases, with only 1,861 reported. Despite this, out of all the police forces/constabularies, as a police force, it saw the highest year-on-year increase at 21% (April 2016 – March 2017 = 1,533). Slightly above was Cumbria Constabulary, with 2,864 shoplifting offences - the equivalent of 8 a day. After Cumbria Constabulary was Warwickshire Police, who had 3,554 shoplifting offences between April 2017 – March 2018.

Collectively, a total of 378,725 shoplifting incidents were reported to 42 police forces/constabularies in England and Wales; a 4% increase from the previous year (April 2016 – March 2017 = overall: 365,783).

Comparison of data from the year before – April 2016-March 2017

OnBuy analysed which police forces/constabularies saw the largest upsurge in shoplifting incidents when compared to the year before. Even though Dyfed-Powys Police had the lowest number of shoplifting incidents out of all the 42 different police forces/constabularies in England and Wales, it saw the greatest increase in shoplifting incidents compared to the last year at 21% (April 2016 – March 2017 = 1,533 > April 2017 – March 2018 = 1,861). Cleveland police had the next biggest increase in shoplifting incidents from the previous year at 20% (April 2016 – March 2017 = 6,917 > April 2017 – March 2018 = 8,294). From the police forces/constabularies in England and Wales, 28 out of the 42 saw an increase in shoplifting incidents during April 2017 – March 2018 when compared to April 2016 - March 2017.

Contrastingly, 13 out of the 42 police forces/constabularies in England and Wales positively experienced a decrease in the number of shoplifting incidents from April 2016 – March 2017. Northamptonshire Police saw the most notable decrease in shoplifting offences at 14% (April 2016 – March 2017 = 5,246 > April 2017 – March 2018 = 4,518). Avon and Somerset Constabulary then had the next highest decrease in shoplifting incidents (April 2016 – March 2017 = 12,960 > April 2017 – March 2018 = 11,417). Bedfordshire Police also had a notable decrease in shoplifting crimes at 11% (April 2016 – March 2017 = 4,193 > April 2017 – March 2018 = 3,742)