News Archive

Thieves Charter

by msecadm4921

The Government’s fixed penalty tickets for shoplifters are a thieves’ charter, claims John Dwyer, Managing Director, Zeon Business Protection Services

If a retailer is losing stock it affects all of us because it is then not making the profits anticipated, prices will increase to cover those losses and the honest customer therefore pays for the acts of the dishonest one. This applies right down the supply chain from the manufacturer to the wholesaler to the retailer and each link has the possibility of its profit being compromised by criminal activity. Each link therefore adds on an element of cost to cover ‘shrinkage’ and this cost is handed down to the next link and so on. In reality the end user is the one who pays for all this ‘shrinkage’ as the buck stops with them. It is estimated that we all pay around 10 per cent more than we should for our goods and services to cover the costs of criminal activity along the whole length of the supply chain. Imagine the effect on costs, and trade generally, if criminal activity could be reduced or even removed completely.


Imagine what effect this would have on the business of the end retailer – they would either make a lot more profit on the same volume of trade or be able to reduce prices and experience increased volume of trade, which in turn would also yield a lot more profit. Either way the retailer would win, but in the last scenario the end user would also win and I believe that is what we should be aiming for – a genuine win/win situation.

In the interest of fairness, the honest majority needs to see that the dishonest minority is punished for its actions when they are caught. It is a sad fact that government policies are continually watering down the punishment meted out to criminals. The Home Office is now promoting the issue of fixed penalty tickets for what it describes as ‘minor crimes’. This includes shop theft up to the value of £200. On top of that the offender would be let off without a criminal record and without any DNA or fingerprints being taken.

So, if I were inclined to adopt a life of crime, shop theft seems like a good career move to me. Firstly I stand a good chance of not being found out, especially if I’m good at it. Secondly, in the unlikely event of me being caught I will end up with a fixed penalty ticket provided I have not stolen more than £200 worth of goods. Seems like a good deal to me – I mentioned a win/win situation previously where the customer benefits. Well this is a win/win situation for the criminal provided they pay the fine – and if they don’t they must be daft.

This is a thief’s charter sponsored by the Government. What on earth are our political leaders thinking about? They are not on the same planet as the rest of us if they think this is going to be regarded by the wrongdoer as a punishment. Crime and punishment is a balancing act – balancing the needs of society to see punishment meted out with the need for the thief to be fearful of the full weight of the law. This policy is about as fearful to the thief as is a feather fluttering earthwards. In short there is no longer a deterrent for thieves committing shop theft.
The retail sector is about to experience previously unforeseen levels of ‘shrinkage’ unless it responds in a positively aggressive way to increase the likelihood of thieves being caught. Thieves are not thick – they are lazy. They cannot be bothered to earn a living like the rest of us and want an easy source of income. The retail sector needs to be alert to the fact that it is about to be seriously assaulted by these ne’er do wells. The only solution is to ensure that the criminals are caught more often than not, and thus there will be no incentive for them to commit crime since the fixed penalty notices will start to mount up, and failure to pay them will expose them to a prison sentence. Faced with this stark possibility they will go in search of easier pickings – to someone else’s business where such stringent precautions have not been taken and where the likelihood of getting away with it is significantly better. If you fail to strengthen your business defences then you will be targeted mercilessly by these people – you have been warned!!

Having said that I know that most businesses will not respond until they have been attacked – after all it isn’t going to happen to them is it? Well, it is going to happen, if it hasn’t already, – it is only a matter of time. Once a weakness has been identified then it will be exploited by the criminal elements and if the business does not act quickly enough it could bring about the demise of the whole enterprise. A business which has probably taken many years to build up into a thriving concern can be decimated almost overnight by these parasitic criminals.

About the firm

My own company Zeon Business Protection Services was established to assist managers to tighten security of their businesses. We use a network of 400 retired police officers across the country carrying out security consultancies, investigations and debt and asset recovery activities. We will come into your business and identify weaknesses which could be exploited by criminals. We will show you how easy it is to acquire your property – money, goods, intellectual property – and then recommend steps which can be taken to make it more difficult, and therefore less attractive, for criminals. We do not provide or install equipment, but we can project manage the acquisition and installation of equipment if you so wish.

Have a look at the outside of your premises and try to imagine how you would get in if you were locked out. You will probably be able to identify three or four potential points of entry and if you can identify them, then so can the criminal. Having identified them you should do something to make those points of entry more difficult – remember the criminal is looking for an easy picking not an arduous task.

About the author

Zeon Business Protection Services’ Managing Director John Dwyer is a former Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire.

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