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Preventing Retail Crime in Leeds

Retail crime has always been a pressing matter in Leeds but with the outbreak of the Coronavirus it has become more and more important to stay in control of everything that happens within a retail store.

By the end of June 2020 more retailers had gone into administration, putting more stores at risk and more employees under threat of losing their jobs, than in the whole of 2019. By early October 2020, there were more stores at risk and staff facing redundancy than at the height of the 2007-9 recession. Within Leeds shops including Monsoons, Bensons for Beds, Harveys and more have been closed. This coupled with the expected increase of losses within retail from crime, which was at £4,821m in 2019, shows the importance of taking effective preventative measures. Before looking at prevention it is important to first understand what types of retail crime are occurring.


Types of Retail Crime


There were a total 157 shoplifting offences recorded in Leeds in August 2020 alone. Shoplifting is one of the most popular crimes committed within retail and within Leeds as a whole.  In a world where everyone now seems to carry a rucksack, goods can be hidden in their bag or a pushchair, clothes can be tried on in the cubicles and neither paid for nor returned, goods can be stolen and later returned for a full refund, or a ‘shopper’ can simply empty a shelf and walk out of the store with the products. In addition, the fact that the police now often avoid being involved in dealing with low-level retail crime and that an offender who has stolen less than £200 no longer needs to attend court, but can plead guilty by letter, may have made potential offenders more willing to shoplift.


Organised Retail Crime

The crime figures in Leeds for burglary and robbery combined was 166. This consists of gangs or groups of criminals stealing merchandise, data or cash from retailers. It is not one single type of theft. This might involve theft from delivery vehicles or warehouses. It can involve large-scale organised shoplifting and refund fraud using a network of small-time thieves, some of whom may well have been trafficked by the same gang. Gangs may also use violence to ensure compliance by shop staff.



The major growth in the use of self-scanning by retailers can and has been associated with a somewhat increase in theft by customers. This is because there is no one looking over them, meaning they are more likely to attempt a shoplifting offence or pretend they missed scanning an item if court.


Staff Theft

Staff theft is notoriously hard to detect and can involve numerous methods. Staff can mis-scan items, give too much change, or place merchandise in the wrong part of the store which they then steal. Goods in perfect condition can be left outside near the waste bins for later collection, or fake refunds can be given on goods that are never returned.


Suppliers and Warehouse

Warehouses that operate 24 hours a day can be places where large-scale thefts occur as well as small-scale pilfering. In warehouses dealing with fashion or electrical goods, even pilfering can have a large price tag.


Violence and Threats Against Employees

This has become a growing problem in retail with a total of 25% of retail workers experiencing physically aggressive or violent behaviour in the workplace. According to ukcrimestats.com there were 983 counts of violence in August 2020, this highlights the gravity of this growing issue.


Prevention Methods

  • Your Staff. Diligent staff that greet customers and help them throughout their visit to the Leeds retail store will act as a visual deterrent to any would-be thief.
  • Keep the store neat and tidy. This will help make it harder for criminals to hide and conceal any unwanted behaviour.
  • Ensure all fitting rooms are attended by a diligent member of staff. This will help prevent people from removing security tags, concealing items on their person and more.
  • Keep all expensive items in locked cases and/or behind the counter, out of reach of potential thieves.
  • Put security measures in place, and then make sure every member of staff is briefed as to what to do in every instance of criminal activity.
  • Consider installing CCTV so that criminal activity can be monitored in every inch of the store. This would also be useful evidence for after an incident has occurred.
  • Or the simplest method would be to get a security provider to cover the whole retail store. Region Security Guarding to provide expert retail security guards to protect your store. They can do this by acting as a visual deterrent, monitoring the people in the store as well as CCTV, and they are fully trained in how to prevent criminal activity before it unfolds.


Go to our Leeds page to find out about the security we can provide in this beautiful city.


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