Instances of shop theft climbed 4% last year, with more than half of all retailers in the sector having experienced some form of physical or verbal abuse over the past year.

The figures were revealed in the Association of Convenience Stores’ Crime Report 2014 (PDF), published at a seminar on crime in London yesterday.

The report estimates that while 25,566 incidents of shop theft were reported last year, around a quarter of thefts continued to go unreported – with this figure rising to 58% for internal thefts.

“Tackling crime in store is one of the biggest challenges faced by convenience retailers,” said ACS CEO James Lowman. “The Crime Report 2014 gives retailers simple to follow, targeted guidance which enables them to reduce criminal activity and build relationships with local enforcement agencies.”

The report sets out guidance to retailers on managing potential crimes, dealing with triggers of violence and verbal abuse, responding to robberies and working in partnership with police and the local community to drive down crime.

Speaking at the seminar, crime prevention minister Norman Baker MP said: “The key to success in cutting retail crime is partnership, and you all have a role to play by reporting retail crimes so that we can build up a clearer picture about the issues and where they are occurring. I would also urge you all to engage with your local business crime-reduction partnerships.”

Head of development at Crimestoppers, Anamarie Bishopp, added that raising awareness of Crimestoppers’ helpline in store can be an effective way of enabling employers to blow the whistle on internal theft anonymously.