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New retail crime statistics reveal employee theft, customer aggression and fraud in New Zealand and Australia


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A report by Griffith University reveals statistics on theft, fraud and violence experienced by retailers in Australia and New Zealand.

Commissioned by the Future Profits Protection Forum, the 2022 Australia and New Zealand Study on Retail Crime It provides critical insight into retail crime and aims to help retailers mitigate retail crime through evidence-based strategies and loss prevention.

Retailers lose thousands of dollars annually to retail crime, and understanding how and when this happens is critical to business planning, said Michael Townsley, co-author and professor at the Griffith Institute of Criminology.

Professor Townsley said: “We estimate the costs of crime to the Australian and New Zealand retail economies at around $4.3 billion a year, which is a 28% increase over four years from when a similar study was last conducted.”

Customer theft was the largest category of retail crime making up 53% of losses followed by employee theft which made up 24% of losses.

“While employee theft is less frequent than external theft incidents, each incident of employee theft is usually of much higher value.

On average, a single incident of external theft costs a retailer about $415 compared to an incident of internal theft costing an average value of $1,200.

“We explored discount stores, sports and leisure stores, and hardware stores that consistently reported the highest frequency of violent or aggressive behavior from customers.

“In some good news, burglaries have seen a sustained decline, and there appears to be a shift from armed to unarmed burglary in the last four years.”

Some of the largest retailers in Australia and New Zealand responded to the survey, accounting for total annual revenue of $136 billion, making up nearly a third of both countries’ retail economies and more than 8,900 stores interviewed.

The report also responds to the cultural and economic shift since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to embrace online trading, while simultaneously dealing with panic buying, supply chain disruptions, closures, and staff shortages.

Prof Townsley said: “Retailers have reported an increase in customer aggression and violent incidents during the peak of COVID-19, and as verbal abuse and violence likely would not have been reported without injury, the increase is likely to be higher than official statistics indicate.”

“It’s great to know what types of items are most targeted for theft and that includes things like fresh meat, make-up, sportswear, batteries and delivery devices.

“We find that thieves use a wide variety of methods, and their techniques are evolving to circumvent every improvement in store and product security.

“However, the most cited methods of theft were not very sophisticated, such as distracting employees while taking the item, hiding an item from their person, or just walking straight out of the store.”

The COVID lockdown and working from home shifted customer traffic online and retailers responded by rapidly expanding their online channels, attracting the attention of new types of criminals.

“We know from other studies that online fraud has tripled during COVID-19, and that bad actors have exploited the uncertainty and insecurity of individuals for financial gain,” said Professor Townsley.

“Retail traders were not spared because many retailers needed to discover online trading on a scale they had not planned for, so it is not surprising that some find online security a challenge.”

The study also found significant differences in retailers’ perception of the level of support they receive from the police.

“75% of retailers felt they were adequately supported by the NSW Police Service and the New Zealand Police Service, but only 25% of retailers felt they were supported by Victoria Police,” said Professor Townsley.

“The gap between the highest and lowest rated police was quite striking and individual retailers agreed that the differences in support levels are significant.

“Our qualitative data reflect the core of the issue and the level of participation appears to be at the local level.”

Provided by Griffith University

the quote: New Retail Crime Statistics Reveal Employee Theft, Customer Aggression and Fraud in New Zealand and Australia (2023, April 4) Retrieved April 4, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-retail-crime-stats -reveal- employee. html

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