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    ‘Retailers, wholesalers face rise in theft by own staff’

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    Retailers are being hit by an epidemic of thefts by their own staff which is costing an estimated £3 billion a year, a recent report has claimed, citing analysis of court records and research which in turn show that stores and warehouses have been routinely raided by employees taking thousands of pounds of goods at a time.

    According to recent research by the data analytics firm Retail Economics and the security firm Thruvision, cost of employee theft has risen to £3.3 billion and accounts for 40 per cent of all retail theft. Losses from shoplifting totaled £4.7 billion.

    Court records shows that, in recent months, one Co-op supermarket worker stole £12,800 worth of cigarettes. At Morrisons, 40 cases of alcohol worth £4,800 were taken. M&S found one employee had been issuing themselves credit notes worth almost £2,000. At Harrods, a shop assistant was caught taking £5,400 worth of aftershave, while another took £36,200 worth of handbags.

    Indictments reveal that employees are suspected of stealing high-value goods including cigarettes and alcohol, stated The Times, adding the warning from security experts and academics that, in some cases, criminal gangs are recruiting workers to steal on their behalf or taking jobs as agency workers.

    According to the Retail Economics and Thruvision report, among retailers who had seen a rise in employee theft in the past year, 70 per cent said they had also seen an increase in organised crime in distribution centres. The report was based on a survey of 100 managers and directors responsible for loss-prevention at some of the UK’s biggest retailers with a minimum £100 million annual turnover.

    Colin Evans, chief executive of Thruvision, which offers security technology, said internal theft from retailers’ distribution centres had risen “significantly over the last few years”.

    “We have seen a rise in organised crime, attracted by ease of access to large volumes of high value items and a relatively low risk of being caught. Gang members typically join as temporary staff.”

    David McKelvey, a former Metropolitan Police officer who now runs My Local Bobby, a security company that provides cameras and guards to companies, said: “With the increase in online shopping, employee theft at distribution centres has risen dramatically.

    “There are issues with retailers failing to carry out suitable vetting of staff and as a result organised crime have been able to infiltrate the supply chain.”

    Emmeline Taylor, a professor of criminology at City, University of London and the host of the Retail Crime Uncovered podcast, said, “There has been a huge amount of focus on prolific shop thieves and organised criminal gangs that have been targeting the retail sector, particularly those that use violence and aggression. At the same time, the existence of relatively high levels of internal theft has become the elephant in the room.

    Taylor added that retailers did not want to damage their reputation by talking about employee theft, particularly at a time when some studies have shown retail is one of the unhappiest jobs to be in.

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