Shopkeepers feel they are isolated in their fight against criminals, claiming law enforcers are abandoning their shops to the crooks, according to preliminary findings from the British Retail Consortium's annual Retail Crime Survey.

Early results from the survey, to be published in full on October 11, indicate that retailers believe the government and the police are not seriously committed to tackling retail crime.

Findings include that 90% believe retail crime is low on the government's agenda, while 86% of retailers believe ministers are failing to address the issue properly.

Some 77% are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with police response times, and just 5% believe police treat retail crime as anything other than a low or very low priority.

BRC director general Kevin Hawkins said: “These figures show shopkeepers feel they have been abandoned. Attempting to hand shoplifters over to the police has become time-wasting and futile. Too often they are not interested and even when there is a successful prosecution the penalties are derisory.

“A lot of store managers are now resigned to the fact that their own efforts at beating the crooks will not be supported.”