Theft levels have rocketed to a 10-year high, the British Retail Consortium's annual crime survey has revealed.

The total cost of goods stolen shot up to an estimated £830m last year, with detected theft up 8.5% to £205m and undetected theft thought to have increased by a similar amount. The average value of goods stolen in each incident has also risen, by £7 to £156.

The report also went into greater detail on the rise in violent acts against shopworkers, which the BRC revealed last month had soared 50%.

Six out of every 1,000 employees were subjected to violence in 2006 compared with four per 1,000 in 2005, while threats of violence soared 129%, 16 in every 1000 subjected to such threats compared with seven per 1000 in 2005. However, there was a slight drop in the percentage of those subjected to verbal abuse, from 16 to 15 per 1,000.

The BRC this week reiterated its call for retail crime to be taken more seriously by the government.

"Last year shop staff were subjected to about half a million incidents of abuse or violence in their workplaces and retailers clocked up even greater losses to theft," said BRC director general Kevin Hawkins.

"It's clear the current approach is not working. The government and law enforcers must stop believing retail crime is victimless and committed by harmless petty criminals. Most thieves are driven by drug addiction. They are certainly responsible for other crimes. They have a significant impact on our communities."

He urged the government to recognise that retailers were a valuable asset to communities and "not just a part of a large industry that can go on taking this annual beating".

John Hannett, general secretary of shopworkers' union Usdaw called on local partnerships of retailers, shopworkers, councils and police to work together.

"This not only affects retailers and staff, but customers and the wider community as well, which makes it all the more important that we work together," he said." "Shopworkers deserve respect and should be able to go to work without the fear of violence and abuse."