Shocking figures reveal effects of crime on businesses
Over half (51 percent) of small and medium sized businesses in the UK have been targeted by crime, costing owners up to £25m – or £2,625 for every crime.
The study of 500 small to medium business owners, commissioned by independent charity Victim Support and security firm ADT, found that businesses are being repeatedly targeted by criminals which is causing them to lose up to 151 days of trading over the lifespan of the business.
Over a quarter of businesses that were targeted were victims of burglary (27 percent), while 24 percent suffered theft from an outsider. Shockingly, the study also found that one in five (19 percent) business owners are targeted by theft 20 times or more across the lifespan of their business.
19 percent of the 500 small and medium business owners who were surveyed had suffered from vandalism, with businesses targeted by crime of this nature an average of nine times.
The impact of crime on trade and staff morale is vast, with the majority of owners suffering emotional distress (69 percent), experiencing lost income (42 percent) and fearing that they will become a victim again (33 percent).
Wholesale owners felt particularly vulnerable to crime, with over half (52 percent) worried that they would be targeted again and over a quarter (26 percent) concerned about the security of their business.
Meanwhile, the majority of businesses (75 percent) did not have the necessary security precautions in place until after they had suffered commercial crime.
Small business expert, Rachel Bridge, said:
“Most concerning of all is the effect crime has on small businesses who are less able to cope with the significant financial and emotional shock in the aftermath of a crime. The cost of the crime is long lasting; it doesn’t just disappear. Many small businesses on the high street are run by people for people, and they are an integral part of the way our society and economy works.
The good news is there are clear actions that businesses can take to help themselves.”
A spokesperson at ADT, Gail Hunter, said:
“This new research shows the shocking scale and impact that crime can have on small and medium businesses and disappointingly, the figures show that there is a strong possibility that it could happen again.
Our aim is to help prevent crime and give business owners and their staff peace of mind. We advise business owners to take proactive steps to help protect their businesses and livelihoods. Simple actions such as business security reviews, help the business owner to understand the best crime prevention measures for their business, especially as these needs change and evolve over time.”
Karen Froggatt, Director at independent charity Victim Support said:
“Business crimes are not victimless – owners and staff often put their life and soul into their work. These crimes are taken personally and can have a devastating impact emotionally and financially on victims, just like any other crime. All crime victims deserve support and justice and our specially trained staff and volunteers offer free, confidential help and support to all victims of crime. We encourage anyone affected by this to get in touch.”
ADT and Victim Support have joined forces to launch ‘Take No More’, a campaign to help tackle burglary across England and Wales. The initiative will run free crime prevention schemes for householders and business owners, increase awareness of support services for burglary victims, and campaign to ensure that those victims get justice in court.
Colin and Zoe bought Hilton House, a ten-bedroom hotel in Derbyshire, just over six years ago. Three months after they arrived, they were broken into in the middle of the night. The burglars kicked down a wooden door and ripped four safes from the wall causing £2000 in damages and stealing a camera and money worth £500. They have since been burgled three more times.
“The first time it happened it felt quite traumatic because it was the first time I had been a victim of crime. It was a shock. Its like a personal attack on us because we were the new owners… People just see it as a business and in their eyes you are fair game.”
Judy Mercer is the co-owner of Hamilton News, which has three news agency shops in Belfast. Four months ago burglars tried to break into one of the shops early in the morning by attempting to prise open the door with a crowbar. They failed to get in but still caused more than £1000 of damage because both the door and frame had to be replaced.
“I saw the guys run off but it was only when the police arrived that I realised they were running away from the front of our shop. It is the amount of money that is involved in putting everything back together again which is probably the biggest problem because the insurance doesn’t cover everything. It is all a hassle and takes weeks to recover from.”