Retail crime costing the industry $1 billion a year, new report finds

Retail crime is getting more violent and is costing the industry around $1 billion a year, a new report has found.

A report released today by Retail New Zealand and Otago University has found retailers are facing increasingly organised and violent criminals.

But it’s not just violent robberies, petty crime such as shop lifting is also getting worse.

Retail NZ says many retailers are having to take on the cost of protecting their staff and goods themselves.

"It’s a significant amount of money that ultimately is being paid for by all consumers because the price is being reflected in the goods,” Greg Hartford from Retail NZ said.

In 2003, at the last time of the last report, the total cost of crime was $564 million. This year it's $1.085 billion.

“It’s costing everyone money. It’s not only the retailers, but their families, communities and the country as a whole,” Crime Prevention Group chair Sunny Kaushal said.

The report shows 81 per cent of retailers having been impacted by some form of crime in the past 12 months.

The largest loss was to grocery, convenience, food and liquor stores.

Respondents in the report say they've noticed criminals being more brazen - including taking items in full sight of staff - and being more aggressive.

"Theft is still the most common form of crime in retail but the crime is becoming more aggravated, its becoming more threatening and often staff are put in situations they really shouldn't be put in,” Mr Hartford said.

Key recommendations in the report include government action in the form of funding a retail crime taskforce, setting targets for a reduction in retail crime and introducing an infringement notice for low-value offending to help deter retail crime.

"Retailers are concerned about the level of crime and its one of the reasons why NZ First and Labour are bringing 1800 more police officers. At the moment that police force is absolutely stretched, they're being asked to prioritise different levels of crime,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

Mr Nash met with Retail NZ to discuss the report this week, and reiterated that assault should always be reported and investigated but shoplifting will be a lower priority given stretched police resources.

Small business owners from Auckland will travel to parliament next week to meet with Mr Nash to discuss how to combat retail crime.

A new study out today shows retailers are facing more organised and violent crimes. Source: 1 NEWS