Tobacco crime is big business and all tobacco retailers are affected by it. Since the 1993 Budget that started the escalation of tax about inflation the illicit market has grown dramatically. There are several sources of supplies to the illicit market including smuggling, counterfeit and stolen. Thefts from cash and carry depots, delivery vehicles and shops are fuelling the illicit trade in tobacco, with serious implications for underage access to tobacco and public health.

The Liverpool Echo reported on the burglary of City News Extra last month. They reported: “Thieves fled with a £10,000 haul following a break-in at a city newsagents. Ibrahim Al-Cholbec said he arrived at shop City News Extra, in Leece Street, Liverpool city centre, at about 8am on Tuesday and found the shutters forced open and cigarettes, chewing gum and cash stolen from his store. He examined CCTV which showed three men in the shop from about 5.30am until 6.15am that day.”

There is some of the CCTV recording attached to the report show the brazen attitude that the three criminals exhibited as they went about the task of stripping the tobacco gantry. It certainly reminded me of the experience that my wife and I had when we were burgled.

I have great sympathy for Mr Al-Cholbec and hope that his insurance company does it best for him. Here are some tips to help retailers manage the risks involved with being a cigarette and tobacco stockist.

  1. Reduce your stock holding, have two or three deliveries or trips to cash & carry per week.
  2. Reduce your gantry stock holding, hold no more than enough stock for one and a half days in the display.
  3. Store full outers of cigarettes and tobacco away from the counter preferably in a safe or other secure place.
  4. Remove cash from tills at the end of each day and lock it away in a secure place.

You can read Mark Fletcher advice on using EPoS to help reduce the impact of crime here.