TWO out of five firms surveyed say they were victims of crime last year with pay cuts and unemployment levels blamed.
Close to one-third believe their business is at greater risk in the current climate according to research conducted by Carlow-based protection company Netwatch.
Three-quarters believe there will be a general increase in crime this year and not one person questioned believed that crime would decrease in 2010.
Two-thirds of respondents also believe criminals are targeting new victims in the past year. Rural properties, vacant construction sites, cash generating businesses, elderly people, key holders, business owners and their families are increasingly seen as vulnerable to criminal targeting.
The multi-sector survey showed that breaking and entering yielded substantial rewards for thieves in Ireland last year with more than half of those surveyed reporting lost property valued up to €5,000 and 25% of respondents being hit to the tune of €10,000 to €20,000.
A third of respondents said criminals have been employing new techniques in the past year, with internet crime, phishing, identity theft and currency forgery taking place in addition to more traditional forms of criminal activity.
Managing director of Netwatch, David Walsh said: “In a worrying indictment of our society at present, almost 65% of respondents believe that their business is at even greater risk of crime in the current economic environment. Higher unemployment, lower rates of pay, less disposable income, financial pressures and sheer desperation are some of the reasons that respondents gave for this perceived threat.
“The theft of cash, machinery and fuel has emerged as particularly prevalent activity in recent months.”
Two thirds of respondents had burglar alarms and CCTV cameras installed last year.
“Cutbacks in security measures were cited as one reason why businesses are at greater risk of crime, however 80% of respondents said they would not be paying more for security this year.
“It is imperative that businesses now explore different, cost effective approaches to their security solutions to ensure they are getting more value and efficacy for their security spends,” said Mr Walsh.
One-third of respondents reported a rise in anti-social behaviour in their area in the past year including increases in attempted breaks ins to businesses, homes and vehicles and an increase in drug use was also noted.
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