Shocking figures reveal crippling effects of crime on small and medium sized businesses

5 August 2015

Over half (51%) of small and medium sized businesses in the UK have been targeted by crime, costing owners up to £25m(1) – or £2,625 for every crime.

The study of 500 small to medium business owners(2), 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%), while 24% suffered theft from an outsider. Shockingly, the study also found that one in five (19%) business owners are targeted by theft 20 times or more across the lifespan of their business.

19% 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.(5)

The impact of crime on trade and staff morale is vast, with the majority of owners suffering emotional distress (69%), experiencing lost income (42%) and fearing that they will become a victim again (33%).

Wholesale owners felt particularly vulnerable to crime, with over half (52%) worried that they would be targeted again and over a quarter (26%) concerned about the security of their business.(4)

Meanwhile, the majority of businesses (75%) 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.

Notes
1 Across all of the respondents that we asked, the total cost of crime is taken from the study of 500 small to medium business owners, for all crimes and all businesses (across the lifespan of all businesses). This is calculated by taking the estimated number of experiences of each type of crime, per business, and multiplying by the estimated cost of the last crime experienced, at an individual respondent level.
2 Populus conducted 500 x 20 minute telephone interviews between 11 May and 5 June 2015 with owner/proprietors in SMEs with 3-49 employees. All respondents worked in the retail, wholesale or hospitality sectors and had an annual turnover of under £10m. Soft quotas were set on business sector and business size, to ensure a good spread of responses. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.
3 Across all of the respondents that we asked, the total number of days lost to crimes is taken from the study of 500 small to medium business owners, for all crimes and all businesses (across the lifespan of all businesses). This is calculated by taking the estimated number of experiences of each type of crime, per business, and multiplying by the estimated length of time the business had to close for the last experience of each type of crime, at an individual respondent level.
4 Please note base size is under 100
5 This is across the lifespan of a business

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