Shock new figures reveal staff theft has soared by 129%, costing retailers on average 11 times more than shop theft.

The leap in incidents was singled out as the most significant development reported in the Retail Fraud Survey, published by Retail Knowledge, which showed employee theft increased from 28% in 2015 to 64% in 2016.

It adds to findings in the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2016 Crime Report, which revealed internal theft cost the convenience sector £19m last year, and retailers on average £1,686 per incident, which it said is 11 times more than the average cost of shop theft.

It is a serious concern for everyone, but is a bigger issue for independents because any loss affects their sustainability

The fraud statistics are a serious concern for independents who are more vulnerable, the NFRN has warned, adding it has moved the issue up its agenda.

“It is a serious concern for everyone, but is a bigger issue for independents because any loss affects their sustainability,” NFRN national president Ralph Patel said. “Some of the figures are quite frightening. Any crime that impacts the bottom line affects independents a lot more than the multiples because they can’t sustain that.”

Paul Bessant, founder of Retail Knowledge, this week told RN internal theft is now the biggest loss for retailers.

“In small retail businesses staff can be either immediate or extended family or long-standing employees so there has been a reluctance to acknowledge the reality,” he said. “Small businesses can be more vulnerable as it is not uncommon for only one person to be in a store at a time.”

Retailers are advised to review their processes and ensure they carry out regular spot checks, split responsibilities between staff members and have procedures for dealing with such incidents in place and agreed with staff.

NFRN national deputy vice president Linda Sood, of Falcon News in Portsmouth, lost tens of thousands of pounds to employee theft. She said: “It’s a big issue for independents. My advice is check on even your most trusted employees. Keep an eye on them and make sure you have adequate CCTV.”