The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is building the first national database of crimes against wholesalers.

The federation plans to use its criminal intelligence database to lobby the police to pay more attention to crimes against its members, as well as help with their investigations.

Because the police were currently dealing with each crime individually, they did not have a picture of what was going on nationally and did not know when criminal gangs were involved, the FWD said.

The database would contain the details of criminal activity against premises and vehicles, as well as victim statements, said Palmer & Harvey security manager Derek Bruder, who is overseeing the project. The FWD, which would pass the data to the police and provide risk alerts and updates to members, had no choice but to take action, he added.

"There's a nervousness in industry that proposals to cut police resources will put the industry in an even weaker position.," he said. "We pay business taxes and in an ideal world protection would be part of what we pay for but we have to get real about the economic climate and do something about it. If we work with the ­police we expect them to act accordingly."

Road freight crime costs the UK £250m a year, according to TruckPol. In November, Booker manager John Viggers was kidnapped by a gang who forced him to open the cash & carry in Grantham.

The theft of a lorry-load of cigarettes was currently treated in the same way as that of a sat-nav from a private car, said Bruder, and the data would be used to lobby government to take commercial crime more seriously. "We'll be lobbying to say 'commercial crime might not be in your performance indicators but you can't turn a blind eye any longer'."

A similar project by the Tobacco Manufacturers Association had led to 27 arrests to date, said FWD CEO James Bielby. "The more evidence the police have, the more likely they are to act," he said.