There could be an urgent need for security devices such as CCTV in the retail sector, as new research has revealed a huge surge in shoplifting activity.
According to the 2012-13 Global Retail Theft Barometer by Euromonitor International, a consumer market research company, shoplifting, employee and supplier fraud and organised retail crime are combining to cost the UK high street more than £3.40 billion a year.
The economic downturn was cited as one reason why high-value food was one of the prime targets for criminals, with meat, cheese and fresh coffee going missing from shelves across the UK on a regular basis.
A breakdown of the Barometer revealed that shoplifting was the primary reason for criminal losses among UK retailers, accounting for 36 per cent of total losses - a proportion that represents £1.22 billion.
However, employee crime is also a huge issue, accounting for 33 per cent of the total figure - just three percentage points less than shoplifting. Administrative and non-crime losses and supplier fraud were estimated at 25 per cent and six per cent respectively
The British Retail Consortium said the high volume of shoplifting and food theft has resulted in a knock-on effect of higher prices for law-abiding consumers, with crime policy adviser Laura Davies stating: "Our most recent retail crime survey found that customer thefts account for 83 per cent of all incidents, but significant under-reporting means that the full picture isn't being presented.
"During the recession, there was an increase in shoplifting for personal use, but regardless of the motive retail crime shouldn't be seen as a petty or victimless offence. It affects shops and staff, pushes up retailers' costs and can impact directly on communities."
CCTV systems are a proven deterrent to shoplifters and any evidence they collect would be invaluable to in-store investigations into employee crimes.