Retailers face increasing crime levels as the economic slowdown threatens to wipe out efforts made to reduce retail crime in the past year.
According to the British Retail Consortium's Retail Crime survey, thefts in the year to April dropped 26 per cent. But there was still a third of a million shoplifting offences over the year, equating to one every 90 seconds.
Employee theft also fell 56 per cent in the period.
BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said that decreasing crime figures could be badly hit by the continued economic downturn. "The credit crunch threatens to bring an abrupt end to this trend. Recent reports have focused on a surge in shoplifting and fuel thefts," he said. "Retailers are preparing for a rapid rise in offences and are adapting crime prevention methods, for example, placing electronic security tags on expensive cuts of meat."
The survey found that shoplifting was costing retailers the most money, accounting for 64 per cent of all retail crime losses.
The BRC also found that internet fraud was increasing as online shopping continues to grow. Two thirds of retailers said they expected this to increase and 85 per cent of retailers that sell online said they had experienced fraud in the year to April.