The government has given small stores a cash boost to help fight crime as fresh industry figures reveal an increase in violent attacks on staff and theft. Robberies in grocery stores ran at the rate of eight per 100 outlets. Small shops were particularly susceptible, with one in 10 raided by thugs in the past year. The government is providing £15m to improve security at small stores in the most deprived areas of the country in a three-year programme. The cash can be used to install CCTV and alarms, better locks and shutters and facelifts for run-down areas. Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth said: "Small retailers suffer more than their fair share of crime with double the number of burglaries and 13 times the rate of theft." He also wants action taken to stop the public turning a blind eye to receiving stolen goods or buying them cheaply ­ known as "fencing". The BRC's annual survey reported the total cost of retail crime in all sectors up from £2.015bn in 1999 to £2.044bn in 2000 despite the value of retail losses falling 3% to £1.41bn. This was due to increased spending on crime prevention by £72m to £626m, mainly on security staff. Small stores raised their individual spend 17% to £1,076. Thieves struck 5,280 times per 100 grocery stores. Outlets detained 2,610 suspects and handed over 1,370 to the police. Average cost of each theft was £48. Staff theft is also a problem. Grocers suffered five known incidents per 1,000 staff, with an average loss of £456; 27% of suspects were reported to the police. Food and drink retailers were most at risk from till snatches, recording 15 incidents per 100 outlets (up from five in 1999), with small stores most susceptible, losing an average of £222. Thieves also grew more aggressive, with 60 violent incidents involving staff reported for every 100 food and drink outlets, along with 146 threats of violence. Fraud rose, with £83 worth of cheque fraud for every £1m of turnover in food stores. {{NEWS }}