The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says theft from stores has reached epidemic levels and that it cost the economy was a whopping £1.1bn last year.
BRC researchers questioned 60 high street shops and found that not only had thefts increased but attacks on shop staff had doubled in a year. Physical assaults were up 58 per cent.
Stephen Robertson, the consortium’s director general, said: "The doubling in violence and abuse against retail staff is the biggest concern of all.
“We need tougher sentencing to deter thieves and more consistent use of fixed penalty notices between police forces. Too many shoplifting fines are unpaid."
The shock statistics came after The Sun newspaper reported last month how vicar Tim Jones encouraged the needy to steal.
But Robertson added: "Whatever the motivation, shoplifting is never victimless or acceptable. The cash costs are met by honest customers paying more and the human costs by shop staff who intervene."
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