The cost of retail crime has soared to £1.6 billion a year, a new survey has found, amid fears that retailers may lack confidence when it comes to reporting incidents to the police.

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Retail Crime Survey 2012 reveals that the cost of crime such as stolen goods and crime prevention has increased by 15.6% in the past year.

It also shows that reporting of customer theft – the most common crime ‒ is down from 47% to 12%, suggesting that retailers may not be confident about getting a positive police response in return.

Theft makes up over 80% of all retail crime, the survey suggests, which amounts to two million incidents and £200m worth of goods.

The average theft costs £109 ‒ an increase of 28% from last year.

And while online crime is growing more than actual shop break-ins, the survey also found that retailers are spending £750,000 on average to prevent crime and protect stock and staff.

However, retailers may take some comfort in the fact that robbery and violence against staff have more than halved since last year, with just over 11% of staff having suffered physical attacks, threats or verbal abuse.

“Systematic targeting of higher value goods by organised criminals is pushing up the cost of retail crime but the proportion of shoplifting incidents reported to police has plummeted to just one in eight,” said BRC director general Helen Dickinson.

“This highlights just how much there is to do to build retailers’ confidence in the way police forces respond.”

The survey comes as the BRC calls for a new plan to tackle retail crime in light of the recent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections. 

“The appointment of PCCs presents a new opportunity to understand and tackle retail crime and its effects. It’s vital they put it high on their agendas,” Dickinson said.