Shoplifting adds 3% to the price of products, and around Christmas, it reaches epidemic proportions.
Gardaí reckon shoplifting at Christmas time last year cost retailers €55m — while the overall annual loss was €255m.
Director general of the Retail Grocery Dairy and Allied Trades Association, Tara Buckley, said most of the shoplifting is carried out by organised criminal gangs.
RGDATA is the representative association for the owners of more than 4,000 independent families owned grocery shops, convenience stores, forecourt stores and supermarkets in Ireland.
Ms Buckley said some people were genuinely desperate and stealing food, but it was not a big issue.
“Our biggest concern about shoplifting is organised criminal activity. Gangs arrive in a town and rob every shop,” she said.
“Shoplifting adds 3% to the price of the product because of the massive investment in security, CCTV cameras, staff training and hiring extra staff to monitor the shop floor.”
According to the gardaí, the four top items stolen from retailers are groceries, alcohol, clothing and cosmetics. Ms Buckley said that retailers were admonished by the Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, over the summer for sharing CCTV footage of alleged shoplifters.
In her annual report, Ms Dixon said retailers who share pictures are breaking the law.
Ms Buckley said the commissioner’s position on retailers sharing pictures is “political correctness gone mad”. RGDATA want the law changed to allow CCTV in retail premises for crime prevention.
Director of Retail Ireland, Thomas Burke, said vigilance and working with local gardaí is crucial in reducing shoplifting. “It is still a big cost concern,” he said.
Retail Ireland, the representative body for the entire retail industry, advises members to ensure staff are not exposed to any unnecessary threat, first and foremost. “The fact that the amount of money involved is still so high suggests that people are still getting away with shoplifting,” said Mr Burke.
Meanwhile, gardaí have warned Christmas shoppers to beware of retail car park thefts after it emerged that goods worth around €400,000 were stolen from shoppers’ cars last year.
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