One particular statistic stood out from last week’s crime special report in The Economist: last year there were just 69 armed robberies of banks, building societies and post offices in England and Wales, compared with 500 a year in the 1990s. This was driven down by more complex security systems and a greater fear of getting caught.

At the same time, the number of shop robberies was down 15% last year, according to the ACS crime survey. The Economist, however, says crimes like shoplifting are rising with unemployment, and it is well known that many of these crimes go unreported and missing from the records.

A more worrying trend though, demonstrated in the news pages of RN, is the growth of tobacco crimes against retailers, both in-store and at wholesalers. Tobacco is all too attractive to crooks due to its high price, and a two-metre gantry holds around £10,000 worth of stock.

While there has been lots of investment in crime prevention in local shops, retailers need more protection from tobacco crime. It needs to be addressed with some urgency by the police, government and manufacturers keen to avoid seeing stolen products entering the black market.

In the meantime, there are some basic things you can do to protect your store: ensure you have an adequate and visible CCTV system; keep your shop exterior well maintained; invite a local police officer to visit your shop; and change your routine so you don’t always buy tobacco at the same time. You can also consider deterrents such as a panic button, trace system or alarm.

Most importantly, though, report every crime in your store. If you are not satisfied with the police’s response, tell Priti Patel MP about it on