The recession is leading to an increase in retail crime the Government must respond to, the British Retail Consortium has warned.

In a BRC crime survey published yesterday, 90% of retailers polled said shop thefts had risen over the past 12 months. More than four-fifths of the 13 major retailers taking part in the survey attributed the increase to the economic slump.

”Police must understand the importance of a thriving retail sector to communities and the need to respond promptly,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

The results were published on the same day the Government published its British Crime Survey, which reported there had been no increase in most crimes.

“Retail crime is not victimless,” added Robertson. “It unnecessarily forces up costs for retailers and their customers. It also increases staff intimidation.”