The shoplifting problem: ‘I’m sure the cost is in the millions’

Reports finds that theft and violent robberies are placing a big burden on businesses

Alan Kealy at Spar, Patrick Street. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Alan Kealy at Spar, Patrick Street. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

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Alan Kealy noticed a stock-keeping anomaly in one of his three Dublin convenience stores over a certain period last year and decided to investigate.

Looking back over CCTV footage he found something surprising: a group of workers who had been in the area at the time were calling into the shop during their break and pocketing as much produce as they paid for.

This is not what the average person thinks of when considering a typical shoplifting scenario, but it is a good representation of the many problems crime poses to retailers.

“I think there needs to be a Garda response team or presence of An Garda Síochána that have a sole responsibility for crime in businesses,” said Mr Kealy, who has been a shop owner for the last nine years.

“I don’t know what the cost of it is in the city, but I’m sure it’s in the millions. It’s a huge, huge problem.”

Points of concern

The Cost of Doing Business report found significant points of concern among pharmacies and general retailers – specifically shoplifting and violent robberies.

Businesses face associated security expenses. Security guards can cost retailers up to €30,000 a year, Mr Kealy said. He had a recent CCTV upgrade costing almost €10,000.

The additional burden is unavoidable. In Mr Kealy’s experience, employees have been punched, robbed with syringes, spat at – “violent, violent aggressive people who come in and say they are going to kill you”.

Alcohol is stolen in the morning, while raw meat is routinely cleared from shelves. His “shrinkage” allowance – that portion of turnover allowed for losses to do with waste and theft – was 1.8 per cent last year, a “huge difference” to the normal 1 per cent.

“Nowhere is safe from any of this type of carry-on once you are in a cash business,” he said.

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