Crimes Against Businesses – How to Tackle the Biggest Threats to Your Livelihood

The crime against businesses findings from the 2021 Commercial Victimisation Survey were updated in June 2022, and have some quite worrying statistics to impart, of which wholesale and retail businesses are wise to take note.

The crime against businesses findings from the 2021 Commercial Victimisation Survey were updated in June 2022, and have some quite worrying statistics to impart, of which wholesale and retail businesses are wise to take note.

Retail security

The Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) details the prevalence, frequency and impact of crime experienced by wholesale and retail sector businesses.

The 2021 survey estimated that 38% of business premises in the wholesale and retail sector in England and Wales had been affected by crime between April 2020 and March 2021.

The most common type of crime experienced was theft (27%), followed by assaults or threats (12%), and burglary (10%).

In terms of theft, customers were the biggest perpetrators, with 11% of businesses experiencing this type of crime more than once a day. Retail premises were more likely to experience theft than wholesale premises, and also came up against this type of crime more frequently. The most commonly stolen items were food and groceries.

When it came to the impact of these crimes, respondents cited financial loss, stolen goods and additional staff time needed to deal with the incident as the most common.

How to combat the most prevalent types of crimes against businesses?

Being aware that theft, assaults or threats and burglary are the most common types of crimes against businesses in the wholesale and retail sector is knowledge that can effectively be used to shape security measures, with a view to minimising or eliminating it altogether.

Every retail or wholesale security plan should begin with a security risk assessment. This will form the foundation of your plan going forward, but it’s something that should also be carried out on a regular basis, and certainly when anything changes.

Now let’s look at each of the most prevalent types of crime reported by retail and wholesale premises owners, and how to combat them. We will begin with theft in this post, and continue with assaults and threats, and burglary, in a future post.

Retail and wholesale theft

With customers proving to be the biggest threat in terms of retail and wholesale theft, it is clear to see that security measures will need to cater to heading off this problem.

Locked cabinets

For higher value items, it is often beneficial to keep them locked in cabinets or display cases. Whilst this can sometimes cause shoppers to feel awkward having to ask to try something, it is effective in keeping the likes of jewellery, fragrances and designer accessories safe from theft.

Cabinets can be fitted with a traditional lock and key, or an electronic system that opens using a fob, and closes again automatically after a set period of time.

Monitoring suspicious behaviour

Training staff to identify suspicious behaviour that could be a sign of intent to shoplift is helpful, but having measures in place to deal with any detected intention is vital to back this up.

The police have shared tips on how to spot a shoplifter, and what to do if you see one in action.

Facial recognition cameras can also be useful in preventing shoplifting.

Branches of the Co-op in the south of England have been using this technology to scan shoppers entering stores, with a view to looking for potential shoplifters. 18 shops from the Southern Co-op franchise have been using the technology which involves scanning faces every time someone passes the threshold of one of the shops.

The images are converted to numerical data and compared against a watch list of suspects with a history of theft or anti-social behaviour. If a match is detected, staff receive a notification on their smartphones. This allows them to keep a closer eye on the suspect, or decide whether to refuse entry.

Facial recognition technology combined with artificial intelligence (AI) uses machine learning to develop context–aware alert systems which can detect and flag anything from shoplifting, to threatening body language.

So, for example, if a shopper is detected attempting to conceal an item under a coat, then the AI-powered CCTV will pick up the action and send an alert to a member of staff so that they can confront the potential shoplifter, or prompt a security guard to do so.

Store link-ups

By linking in with other retail outlets in your local area, you can gather and share security related information that may be mutually useful. As well as reporting incidents to the police, retailers can work together to reduce crime rates. 

You can begin by looking into whether there are any such programmes operating in your area, while The Independent Retailers Confederation lists associations by trade. 

Door security systems

There are various types of door security systems that can be installed in retail or wholesale premises. These systems use sensor tags that are placed on products to prevent them being taken out of the store. If an item with a tag passes through the sensor, a security alarm sounds. The tags can be deactivated or removed at the checkout.

The presence of such systems can act as a deterrent, as well as detecting thefts.

Options include pedestal systems, with sensors physically noticeable at exits, or concealed door security systems, which cannot be seen but work in the same way. There are also underfloor systems, with sensors hidden under floors or within mats. Both the latter options are useful where space is limited, or where you prefer not to make customers feel uncomfortable by seeing physical systems in place.

Access control

Access control systems make it possible to control who enters and leaves a building.

Whilst you will of course need to allow customers free access to your store, access control can prevent unauthorised personnel from entering restricted zones, such as stockrooms and office areas.

Certain business types, such as jewellers or other high value retailers, may use a video access control system to filter visitors. It is also possible to use access control to prevent a thief escaping by shutting off exit points until the police arrive.  

Contactless access control provides secure access without the need for physical contact such as keypads and fingerprint readers. Instead they use the likes of iris scanning, Bluetooth, RFID, NFC, QR code and smartphone keyless entry.

It is also possible to integrate access control with other security measures such as CCTV, intruder alarms and fire safety systems in order to ramp up protection. Taking steps to prevent tailgating is important where access control systems are in use.


CCTV in a retail and wholesale environment is useful in many ways. It can protect against till fraud, internal collusion and vandalism, as well as relay useful retail analytics and shopping behaviours and monitor health and safety. Of course, CCTV can also be used to prevent shoplifting.

The fear of being watched can act as a deterrent for thieves. Even where they are not caught in the act, their actions are recorded and you can use the footage as evidence to prosecute them.

Being aware of the legal requirements for CCTV use is vital if you are to get the most out of this security measure whilst staying within the law.

Looking for tailored wholesale or retail security solutions?

With 38% of business premises in the wholesale and retail sector in England and Wales having been affected by crime in recent times, it is clear to see the importance of putting security measures in place to minimise losses.

At Barry Bros Security, our accredited and highly experienced security experts have been working closely with businesses in a range of industry sectors for more than seven decades, ensuring premises are protected in line with the specific risks they face.

To arrange a fully tailored security assessment for your retail or wholesale premises, we welcome you to contact Barry Bros Security or call in to our London showroom.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.