Shop theft is at its highest level since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) in 2003.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show incidents of shop theft in the year ending September 2015 were more than 9,000 higher than the previous year. While most offences recorded by the NCRS have seen steady decline, shop theft has risen over recent years.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “Shop theft is a serious crime, which for some retailers can be extremely damaging to the profitability of their business. These government figures are disappointing and must not be ignored.

“Government must be clear that shop theft is a serious offence.  Police and crime commissioners and police forces must prioritise shop theft.  The courts must impose meaningful sentences to deter and punish shop theft.  Retailers must report shop theft.”

Figures from the ACS Crime Survey (2015) show that shop theft cost the convenience sector alone more than£35m between 2014-15, despite millions of pounds being invested in crime prevention measures over the same time period.

ACS will release the results of its 2016 Crime Survey on March 17th at the Crime Seminar at the Methodist Central Hall in London. Places at the Crime Seminar are free for retailers, for more information  click here.