A significant increase in levels of staff theft and an alarming rise in the number of robberies in convenience stores over the past year has been revealed by the 2011 ACS Crime Survey.

Over the course of 2011, the number of robberies increased by 102% from 207 to 419 in the 3,112 stores responding to the survey, but the average cost per instance fell from £2,880 to £1,252.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The level of crime being experienced by convenience retailers continues to rise, but considerable investment in crime prevention measures has led to a decline in the number of till snatches and the value of stock lost in robberies. The message to criminals is clear: targeting convenience stores is becoming less profitable."

Other key findings from the survey include:

* The total cost of staff theft increased by 143%, while the cost per instance has risen by 90%.
* Convenience stores accounted for more than half of all robberies in the retail sector.
* Till snatches fell to their lowest level since the ACS Crime Survey began in 2008.
* Burglaries have risen by 40% in the last year and account for 83% of the total cost of convenience crime since 2008

Lowman continued: “In the survey, verbal abuse was found to be the least likely crime to be reported to the police, followed closely by shop theft. We must ensure that these offences are punished and not just swept under the rug.”