Founded in 1997, we are a national, not for profit crime partnership. We help detect and deter crime, including acts of violence by sharing information on local and travelling offenders to our members in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North West of England.

We provide tailored services aimed at protecting member profits and maintaining a safe environment for retail staff and customers. Our main objective is to prevent prolific, organised and travelling offenders from entering and impacting on member premises. Our customised training programmes assist staff in detecting and deterring crime.

Our specialised staff analyse offenders, identify their methods, their associates and locations targeted. This enables us to forewarn our members who can then detect and deter crime before it happens. RAC identify over 30% of previously unknown suspects, often resulting in prosecution.

We are at the forefront in identifying and providing intelligence on organised crime groups, many of whom are involved in other criminal activities including drugs, firearms, trafficking and terrorism. We work together with crime partnerships and police forces across the UK sharing relevant intelligence on travelling offenders and organised crime groups.

Retail Crime is an industry and has a significant financial impact upon retail and the economy. It can also have a detrimental effect on staff and customers. Businesses that invest in crime reduction measures and education to deter crime help create an environment where staff feel supported, businesses thrive and customers return.

For RAC members, there are proven results clearly demonstrating that “RAC works” for example:

  • Early recognition and detection of suspects, deterring events before they occur therefore preventing losses
  • Improved understanding of how retail criminals operate, their associates, the ways in which they dispose of stolen property, their travel patterns and connections with organised crime
  • Identification of individuals by RAC resulting in their prosecution
  • Heightened retail crime awareness to members through our training programmes/area meetings
  • Assist in maintaining a safe environment for staff, customers and members of the public

Retail Crime is Affecting the Economy

The Retail Crime Survey issued by the British Retail Consortium in February 2017 states that the direct financial cost of retail crime rose to £660m. Customer theft remains the most common type of crime, accounting for 75% of crime by incidents and 66% of the direct cost of retail crime (£438m).

Retailers continue to be targeted by more organised, sophisticated groups, many of whom are already known to RAC. The types of activity that such groups are conducting include bulk theft (Alcohol/DVDs), ATM fraud, fraudulent payments, and trolley push outs. A high percentage of bulk clothing thefts continue to be reported to RAC.

Organised Crime Groups are prolific throughout the UK and internationally, crime being their ‘profession’ or ‘job’. About 40 per cent of incidents reported to RAC are attributed to organised criminals, often working together in groups, with some members distracting staff while thefts are carried out. Specialised equipment, such as de-taggers and foil-lined bags are used during thefts. Increased evidence has been noted of theft for immediate refund. Stolen stock is often sold on at markets, online or on social media sites. Refund fraud reported to RAC remains high. Stock is also ‘stolen to order’.

It is presumed that the cost of retail crime is paid for by increasing prices to the general public. However, price increases are avoided to compensate as existing custom may be lost. Within many RAC members, security staff is reduced along with staffing hours to compensate for the cost of crime which may result in the compromise of staff safety. In some cases stores have also been closed resulting in unemployment which directly affects communities and the economy.

The Retail Crime Survey highlights the growing problem of  fraud and cyber-crime. It shows that cyber-crime such as hacking and data breaches represents 5% of the total direct cost of crime to retail businesses. This preliminary, conservative estimate amounts to an approximate direct financial loss to the industry of £36 million per annum.

Separately, this year the BRC also asked retailers to estimate the percentage of the total cost of fraud levelled against them that was conducted online (‘cyber-enabled fraud’). This was estimated at 53% – approximately 15% of the total cost of crime – representing a total direct cost of cyber-enabled fraud on the retail industry of around £100 million.

Violence and Abuse. Retail staff continue to suffer unacceptable levels of violence and abuse, which rose by 40% since last year. Incidence of violence against staff has therefore increased significantly, with the biggest increase in aggressive and abusive behaviour. In 2015-16, there were 51 incidents of violence and abuse per 1000 staff (up from 41 last year).

The BRC’s Annual Retail Crime Survey (2016) is available here.

Access the BRC’s new Cyber Security Toolkit for retailers here.