In a detailed retail crime survey conducted by RGDATA among its members, the survey reveals:
- 90% of retailers have been the victim of crime over the last 12 months
- 90% of crime is shoplifting with burglary following at 40%
- Over 80% of retailers feel more vulnerable in their shop in the last two years than in the past.
- Nearly 80% of retailers claim crime has become more dangerous in the last year.
- In 85% of cases, the Garda were called and the response time was less than 30 minutes in over 60% of incidents.
- Over 70% of retailers were satisfied with the Garda reaction, however only 55% were kept up to date on the progress of any investigation.
- While the perpetrators were prosecuted and convicted, in over 80% of cases a sentence was not imposed.
Commenting on the results of the survey today, Tara Buckley, Director General, RGDATA said: “The impact that the increased spate of retail crime is having on our members is extremely serious and impacting not just on their livelihoods, but also increasing their stress and anxiety levels beyond what is acceptable. Independent family owned businesses are vital for our local rural communities. However, they are also extremely vulnerable as everyone knows who they are and where they live”.
She continued: “Our members have invested heavily in security and CCTV but this is not deterring crime to any great extent. There are some retailers who have spoken about closing up their shops as a consequence of the fear and threat to themselves, their staff and their families from criminal elements”.
RGDATA has written to the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD, outlining the serious situation shop owners find themselves in and outlined a number of urgent measures required to tackle retail crime.
These measures are as follows:
- A more visible Garda presence in rural towns and villages;
- A commitment by Garda to follow up with retailers in relation to a crime reported.
- The use of the network of retailers for installation of Garda CCTV facilities in areas of particular vulnerability or in locations of pivotal importance from a transport perspective.
- Longer sentences for serial shoplifters – in particular the practice of imposing concurrent sentences for offences fails to provide the deterrent required for recidivist criminals.
- Lifetime driving bans for drivers of getaway cars
- Stronger trespass laws with increased protection for retailers who wish to refuse a person access to their store
- Electronic tagging of offenders
- Stricter bail laws and
- A specialist retail crime unit to assist with deterring and investigating crime against retailers.
Tara Buckley added: “ Independent retailers identify this issue as one of the key concerns impacting on the future viability of their businesses. It is a major issue that needs to be dealt with and serial offenders should face the same penalties as those who rob private dwellings. Dealing with constant shoplifting is causing huge stress for independent retailers and putting their shops and the jobs they provide at risk. Government needs to recognize this and address the issue as a matter of urgency”