While retailers have for many years experienced eye-watering losses caused by theft – lets not trivialise the biggest slice of it by calling it shop-lifting – until recently crime was not among the highest priorities for most wholesalers. However, with the spiralling cost of tobacco, and increasing progress by HM Revenue amp; Customs in combating tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting, criminals have been increasingly turning their attention to the possibilities of cash and carry depots and vulnerable customers in their car parks, and to vehicles delivering to wholesalers’ customers.
The upsurge in incidents at cash and carries, and of theft from the vehicles of wholesalers and their customers, was one of the reasons that prompted the FWD to set up its Criminal Intelligence Database, and it deserves congratulations on how well it has developed.
Members have been sending in reports about thefts and of suspicious activity, and this has enabled the FWD to identify links between incidents and tip-off the police about them. Now members can see the results. The first two prosecutions have resulted in 30-month sentences, removing a threat in these criminals’ area, and there have been further arrests where the police have recovered stolen material.
Hopefully word will quickly get around in criminal circles that the wholesale sector is not an easy touch, helping to deter this type of crime, but the database will also provide evidence of another kind.
Details of the prevalence of this type of crime will provide ammunition for the FWD in its work to persuade the Home Office and police forces to make theft from wholesalers and their customers a higher priority. Let’s hope they are as successful in this as they have been in helping to apprehend the crooks.