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Summary of the ACS Crime Report

09 August, 2023

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) have recently released the results of their annual crime survey. The survey, which was conducted between 13th February and 31st March 2023, examines the incidents and cost of crime experienced by convenience retailers over the past 12 months. Here’s what they found:

The Cost of Crime Is Increasing

The vast majority of retailers surveyed (79%) say they believe the cost of living crisis has led to an increase in theft. More than 1.1 million incidents of shop theft were reported in the past year. Crime against convenience stores costs the industry more than £125 million, or £2,574 per store. Consumers are effectively paying a crime tax of at least 6p per transaction.

This figure doesn’t reflect the additional investment convenience retailers have made in crime prevention in 2022. More than £ 228 million has been spent on safety measures in the last year, or £4,698 per store.

Crime not only takes a toll on businesses financially; it can have a negative impact on their staff as well. As Jenny Alleyne, Co-op, Head of Operational Risk & Compliance, says in the report, “The increase in prolific and persistent offenders across retail is having a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of our colleagues as they strive to run brilliant stores in local communities. The fatigue from this persistent pressure from thieves leaves colleagues frustrated, helpless and feeling tense in their working environment.”

Violence and Verbal Abuse

According to the report, there were more than 41,000 incidents of violence reported in the sector, including more than 8,800 incidents of robbery. 13% of these incidents resulted in injury. These incidents are often triggered by staff encountering shop thieves, attempting to enforce age-restricted sales policies or a refusal to serve intoxicated customers. 25% of retail workers believe that incidents of violence have increased in the past 12 months. Knives were present in 44% of all violent incidents, 55% other weapons (axes, syringes, hammers) were present, and firearms were present in 1% of all instances.

Incidents of anti-social behaviour are another area of concern. 87% of workers have experienced verbal abuse in the past year, and 759,000 incidents of verbal abuse were recorded in 2022. More than a third (34%) of these incidents were hate-motivated.

The report states while violent incidents have decreased since the pandemic, “levels of violence remain unacceptably high”.

Customers have been impacted negatively as well as 36% of customers have witnessed incidents of violence or abuse towards staff. More than a third of customers have stated they feel more anxious when they shop.

Burglary and Organised Crime

While a significant number of incidents are opportunistic in nature, 65% of retailers believe that incidents involving organised crime groups have increased in the past year as well. There have been more incidents of distraction theft (59%), gangs targeting local sites (36%), coordinated shop theft (27%), distribution fraud (14%) and theft from delivery vehicles as well (14%).

At the same time, not all retailers report crime. Only 16% of all retail crime is reported to the police due to the:

  • a perceived lack of interest from the police,
  • a lack of confidence in the willingness or ability of the police to follow up their investigation, and
  • the time and effort it takes to file and process reports, as stated by participants.

Crime Prevention

Many retailers are taking a proactive stance to protect their business. As the report states, “Every pound invested by a business in preventing crime increases the feelings of safety and positivity among local citizens about their communities.”

The top security measures implemented include:

  1. External security
  2. CCTV
  3. Alarms
  4. Staff training
  5. Security Screens

The report makes several recommendations to retailers in order to manage crime, including:

  • Conducting a risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities and plan an appropriate response.
  • Securing all doors and windows to prevent burglaries.
  • Consider installing external shutters for high-risk stores with planning consent.
  • Installing CCTV with a clear view of the ATM to aid police investigation in the event of an ATM ram raid.
  • Involving store colleagues in risk assessment and providing training on security measures, crime reporting, and dealing with abusive customers.
  • Staff should avoid direct confrontations with suspected thieves and offer assistance instead.
  • Displaying high-value goods in view of the till and ensuring a clear view of the storefront.
  • Decreasing the amount of cash held in tills and premises, installing counter drop safes, and changing banking routines regularly to reduce the risk of burglary and robbery.


Crimes against convenience stores are still increasing, including theft, violent incidents, and anti-social behaviours. Moreover, retailers are losing faith in the police when it comes to combating these incidents, taking a more proactive approach to protecting their cash, goods, customers and staff.

By installing physical security measures, investing in additional staff training, and adding security screens, alarms and CCTV, convenience retailers can decrease the risk of becoming a target for both opportunistic and organised criminals.

Safetell has decades of experience in the convenience retail sector and is a leading provider of state-of-the-art security solutions tailored for various sectors.

We offer materials and sizing options that cater to the specific needs of convenience retailers, ensuring a level of protection for staff while maintaining seamless day-to-day interactions between staff and customers and serving as a powerful visual deterrent against criminal activities, such as robbery and burglary threats.

In particular, SafeShield Specialist Glazing is a robust and secure product designed to provide high-level protection for counters and similar spaces in convenience stores. Its key features include a reinforced steel frame and fully welded joints and components, ensuring exceptional durability and strength. The glazing is available in various levels of attack resistance, providing customizable security options to suit different needs. The product boasts an aesthetically thin profile design, integrating well with the surrounding environment.

One of its standout security features is the inclusion of secure anti-tamper glazing beads, preventing unauthorised access and tampering attempts. The integrated security door, complete with integral closers and high-specification Digi locks, further enhances the protective capabilities of the system. A significant advantage of SafeShield Specialist Glazing is its versatility, as it can be easily fitted to both new and existing counters, making it a convenient and adaptable solution for enhancing security in a wide range of settings.

Convenience stores can also use SafeShield UL Security Glazing to protect their staff, cash and high-value products. SafeShield UL Security Glazing is a highly customizable and versatile security product designed to protect and enhance the security of counters in various settings. One of its key strengths is its ability to accommodate multi-tiered and uniquely shaped counterwork, making it suitable for a wide range of client premises with diverse corporate requirements. The product’s flexibility allows it to be tailored to fit almost any shape and size, ensuring a perfect match for specific security needs.

The glazing facilitates secure transactions through vertical or horizontal transaction gaps between the glazing base and the counter surface, ensuring a seamless interaction with customers while maintaining a high level of protection.

Although no security measure can guarantee the prevention of armed robberies or thefts, Safell’s solutions significantly reduce the likelihood of such events occurring. Thieves are discouraged from smash-and-grab tactics, preventing quick getaways with valuable merchandise. In addition to preventing merchandise or cash loss, Safetell’s screens create a safer and more secure environment for both employees and customers. This minimises the potential for violent incidents and avoids associations with violent crime.

Speak to an expert today

If you believe that your store could benefit from security screens, partitioning, or doors, reach out to Safetell without delay. Our expertise in the industry enables us to provide top-notch solutions that meet your needs and deliver the protection you need. Let Safetell help you safeguard your business and assets effectively.