Jack Courtez dissects police statistics relating to cash and carry robberies
According to recent figures obtained by Better Wholesaling’s sister title, RN, more than 18 wholesale customers are victims of robberies at cash and carries every month, with 436 incidents of theft from a person or vehicle outside the depot taking place between 2017-2018.
Freedom of information requests sent to the UK’s police authorities also uncovered that the average wholesale customer robbed lost £1,618.66, with some claims submitted to police as high as £10,000 in stock and cash. Of the 45 police forces contacted, 75% provided data and 33% provided crime breakdowns for individual premises in their area.
The most dangerous areas in ascending order were Greater Manchester, Merseyside, London, the Thames Valley area and the West Midlands. Collectively, these areas account
for 50% of robberies.
These figures do not include robberies in transit, the 25% of police forces (including Police Scotland and Northern Ireland) that failed to provide data, or cases where it was not possible to determine the victim of the offence, meaning the figures presented are a conservative estimate.
Data from West Midlands Police also revealed the most dangerous depots to be Blakemore on Rose Hill Road in Willenhall, where 10 customers were targeted during the two-year period. This was followed by Booker on Stafford Road in Wolverhampton, Bestway on Redfern Road in Birmingham, and Blakemore on Coxwell Avenue in Wolverhampton, which all suffered eight robberies each during the same period.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has advised customers not to leave stock unattended in cars. One customer robbed in Surrey said that failing to heed the FWD’s advice had cost them thousands of pounds. “We got followed from one cash and carry to the next, which was at least 20 miles away. When we went inside, they hit the van,” they explained.
Evidence suggests measures by cash and carries are having an impact. From 2017 to 2018, the total number of cash and carry robberies identified in the police records seen by RN fell by 30%, while thefts from the wholesalers themselves fell by 25%. However, the FWD said the levels had remained “broadly the same” since it started measuring it eight years ago. “It’s an issue that affects all cash and carry operators equally,” claims David Visick, director of communications at FWD.
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Richard Johnson, of Peppers Convenience Store in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, was the victim of theft at Booker in Nottingham in July. He explains: “I’ve heard from retailers and depot staff that though other nearby companies such as Dhamecha have secured their car parks, it is pushing the crime to non-secured cash and carries.”
Describing the incident as “the final straw”, he called on Booker and others to install secure fences and an entry and exit system, to restrict access to customers only, and to accompany retailers while unloading. But despite the criticism, Johnson praises Booker for taking some steps to tackle the issue, including plans for number plate recognition and security information leaflets.
Visick added that the FWD is also dealing with the problem through shared intelligence: “This recently led to arrests being made in the north west.”