Shops lost €1.8 bn last year to shoplifting and retail fraud

The In De Hove shopping centre in Delft. Photo: michiel1972 via Wikipedia
The In De Hove shopping centre in Delft. Photo: michiel1972 via Wikipedia

Shops in the Netherlands are losing €1.8 bn a year to shoplifting and fraud, a study of retail crime across Europe has found.

Checkpoint Systems, which handles security for 24,000 stores across 11 European countries, said retailers spent an additional €600,000 on preventive measures. The Netherlands has the second highest rate of retail crime after Spain, costing the equivalent of €139 per person, according to the company’s survey.

‘The losses in 2018 are enormously high. The sum of €1.8 bn comprises shoplifting, fraud by delivery companies and staff, and the damage caused in particular by travelling gangs,’ Pjotr Wuyckhuyse of Checkpoint Systems told

Organised criminals have targeted the Netherlands partly because its size and road network make it easy to make a quick getaway across the border. Police and retail organisation Detailhandel Nederland have stepped up efforts in recent months against travelling gangs, while prosecutors have asked courts to impose stronger penalties.

‘It is easy to grab a big haul in a relatively small area and flee quickly afterwards,’ said Wuyckhuyse. There are traffic intersections everywhere. For travelling criminals it’s definitely a result. They roam all over the country, with far-reaching consequences.’

Self-scan checkouts in supermarkets are another weak spot because shops do not carry out sufficient checks. Cheese, cosmetics, alcohol and chocolate are among the most popular items to steal at automatic terminals.

Police spokesman Ed Kraszewski told the newspaper that criminal gangs travelling from abroad had become a major problem. ‘The damage these so-called mobile bandits cause is considerable, both economically and emotionally,’ he said.

It’s good that these criminals will receive immediate custodial sentences in future, and if they’re caught a second time there’s a high chance that they’ll go to jail for six months.’

He added ‘Unfortunately not all retailers report offences because it takes up so much time. But an official complaint is essential to prosecute offenders.’

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