A report released by the influential think tank Policy Exchange has suggested that shop theft has been ‘decriminalised’ because of a weak response from courts and police.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “Shop theft is one of the biggest operational challenges retailers face and it’s frustrating when we see repeat offenders getting away with fines. The only way to tackle shop theft effectively is by encouraging police and retailers to work closely together and prevent reoffending with tougher sanctions for repeat shop thieves.”

ACS will this week be releasing its annual Crime Report, detailing the £35m a year that is lost by convenience stores to shop theft.

Lowman added: “We welcome the Policy Exchange report, which highlights the issue with the current £200 shop theft threshold – this sends the wrong message to offenders that shop theft is a victimless crime. Penalties for shop theft should not just be based on a monetary threshold but fully take into account the impact on the victim.”