Store owners have hit out at an ever-increasing spate of retail crimes, warning that shoplifters are severely impacting their livelihoods and causing severe stress.
A reported 90% of retailers have experienced shoplifting in the last 12 months. A new survey also reveals 40% have fallen victim to burglary.
In the majority of cases, the retailer informed gardaí of the crime where the general response time was less than 30 minutes.
While most were satisfied with the Garda reaction, just over a half had been kept informed on the progress of the investigation.
In cases where perpetrators were prosecuted and convicted, fewer than 20% resulted in a jail sentence.
The research, compiled by RGData which represents more than 4,000 retailers, also reveals the majority of shop owners (80%) feel more vulnerable in their premises in the last two years than previously.
“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,” said Tara Buckley, director general of RGData.
“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.”
Ms Buckley said shop owners are doing all they can to combat shoplifters, to no avail.
“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.
“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 recognise this and address the issue as a matter of urgency.”
RGData sent proposals to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald seeking increased Garda visibility, the installation of Garda-monitored CCTV, longer sentences for serial shoplifters, a lifetime driving ban for drivers of getaway cars, stricter bail laws, a specialist retail crime unit, and stronger trespass laws.
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