70% of all shops to be victims of shoplifters during Christmas.
Tougher stance must be taken by the justice system.
Vigilance required of all shopkeepers to limit the damage of this scourge.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, called on retailers to be extra vigilant over the Christmas period as the shoplifting scourge reaches epidemic proportions, with over two thirds of businesses being hit. The Association warned that rising levels of retail crime, particularly during the busy festive period, had the potential to close some businesses and place others under severe pressure.
The direct shoplifting cost to retailers this year will be in excess of €255 million, of which 22% will occur at Christmas alone, amounting to over €9 million every week during the period. This does not take into account the amount spent on security, which adds hundreds of millions on to the cost for retail businesses. It is estimated that shoplifting alone adds 3% to the price of products.
According to ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding "Organised shoplifters take advantage of crowded stores to blend in while committing their crime. Shoplifting is no longer an opportunistic and random event, thieves are part of dedicated gangs who steal to order. Often they move from town to town, targeting small businesses who are particularly exposed at this time of year, due to the extra stock on shelves and the necessity for extra staff who are often inexperienced in this area."
"Consumers also have a part to play in combatting this issue. If they refuse to buy stolen goods there would be no market for shoplifters. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, though it is sometimes perceived as one. In truth, consumers are the biggest losers in relation to this, as it adds to the cost of goods, which affects everyone."
"Government could do a lot more in this area. Shoplifting has a direct impact on the economy in terms of lost revenue to the exchequer and also fuels black market trading. It should be treated as a very serious offence within the Justice system and should be punished accordingly."
The Association recommends that retailers take a number of steps to combat the increased level of crime including;
Frequent liaison with the Garda Crime Prevention Office.
Regular stock controls, ensuring that management are aware of stock levels at all times and are in a position to notice 'shrinkage'.
Adequate security measures which include CCTV and in-house security officers.
Store management, including staff communications and training.
"While we expect extra Gardai to be on the beat in our shopping areas, we are advising retailers to be extra vigilant at this time and to take every possible precaution to protect their staff, stock and cash. New staff must be trained to watch for potential shoplifting and CCTV cameras must be monitored where possible", concluded Fielding.