Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes committed by many opportunist criminals and thieves. It's a crime which is unfortunately very costly for shops which has been illustrated by retail security firm Checkpoints Systems who found that Britain's shops collectively lose £800 million per year due to shoplifting offences.

OnBuy decided to find out the total number of shoplifting incidents which had been reported to every police force/constabularies across England and Wales in the financial year of 2016-2017 (April 2016 - March 2017) using data derived from data.police.uk. Shoplifting per the police is classified as "theft from shops or stalls".

Our analysis of 43 different police forces/constabularies revealed that the Metropolitan Police had the highest number of shoplifting offences in the financial year of 2016-2017 at an astounding 47,580 - the equivalent of 130 incidents a day. The Metropolitan Police was closely followed by West Midlands Police, who had 19,741 incidences of shoplifting reported. The third highest police force was Greater Manchester Police, with 18,002 shoplifting offences.

City of London Police had the lowest number of shoplifting cases, with only 729 reported - the equivalent of 2 occurrences every day. Dyfed-Powys Police had more than double that of City of London Police at 1,533. Cumbria Constabulary had 2,819 incidences of shoplifting reported in the same financial year.

Effective Ways to Prevent and Reduce Shoplifting

A lot of money, time and energy goes into running any type of shop effectively. So, it's only right to try and include many measures as possible to deter individuals and groups from shoplifting.

Here are some of the best actions which can be applied and integrated into any shop:

Credit: cunaplus/Shutterstock

Awareness

Have one employee always at the front of the shop greeting customers as they come in. This will be a clear indication to any potential shoplifter(s) that the staff are aware of who has entered the shop and therefore pay attention to their actions/behaviour.

Organisation

A shop who does not properly organise its stock and leaves it in a cluttered state, makes it a more attractive proposition for shoplifters as they know management/staff will not be able to fully account for their inventory.

Signage

Displaying an adequate number of signs throughout the store clearly stating, 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' will demonstrate your firm stance on the seriousness of the matter. Additionally, including door signs which say the store is protected by security cameras (even if they can't be visibly seen), will deter shoplifters.

Technology

Invest in a reputable alarm system and get CCTV system which can easily be managed. Strategically place CCTV cameras around the store to ensure all areas are sufficiently monitored to discourage shoplifters. Also attempt to electronically tag items to provide added security.

Credit: Zynatis/Shutterstock

Vantage

Where possible use low-level aisles so staff can see customers at all times. Identity blind spots and then use mirrors to provide a vantage point in these areas. The addition of bright lighting will also make shoplifters feel like the spotlight is always on them.

Audit

Carefully identify items which are most likely to be stolen, either through previous experiences or because of their high value (such as mobile phones and phone accessories). Take necessary precautions to make them a harder target for shoplifters such as using display cabinets with sturdy locks or keeping them behind the counter.

Training

Train employees to watch out for behaviours which shoplifters typically display such as paying more attention to their surroundings than the items, repeatedly picking up then putting down the same item(s) and ignoring any attempts to help or engage with them.