Shoplifting continues to rise in the UK according to new stats released by the Office for National Statistics.

From April 2017 to April 2018, there was a 3% increase in reported instances of shoplifting, meaning the number of incidents has increased by nearly a third over the last decade.  While the number of offences increase, thieves are less likely to be caught according to separate statistics released by the Home Office.

The conviction stats show that just 6.6% of reported theft incidents now end in a suspect being charged or summonsed, down from 8% last year. In three quarters of theft cases, the Police now fail to identify a suspect, a 2.5% decrease on the previous figures.

The figure for independent convenience stores may be worse. An investigation by Retail Express discovered shoplifting incidents in independently owned stores are much less likely to end in a conviction than at multiple owned convenience stores.

Police forces are also taking less time to investigate each incident of theft. The average time before an investigation outcome is declared has halved in the last 12 months alone. The Home Office suggests this is because: “some police forces have recently said they will only investigate thefts if the goods are over a certain value.”

NFRN national president Mike Mitchelson said: “Rising instances of retail crime and poor police responses can no longer be tolerated.”  He called on store owners to arrange meetings with their local MPs, chief constables and police and crime commissioners to discuss how crime affects independent shop owners.

Read more: One in five thefts now occurs in a shop