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High-value goods were being increasingly targeted by organised criminals 

Violent and organised crime against the wholesale sector has soared by 30% in the past three years, according to the FWD.

Speaking to the Home Affairs Committee, FWD head of engagement Lyndsey Cambridge explained cash & carry depots and lorries in transit stocking high-value goods were being increasingly targeted by organised criminals to steal and sell on to the black market.

Cambridge explained incidents of theft, which included ram raids, across the country could range up to £30,000 in value, with one particularly “catastrophic” case involving £500,000 worth of goods.

“Unlike retail stores, depots hold large quantities of high-value goods, which makes them particularly vulnerable,” she said. “They use the motorway corridors to target these large warehouses that are very rich in what they are stocking.

“With many convenience stores opting for a delivered service, those goods are also being targeted in transit.”

The hike in crime was in despite of wholesalers tripling investment in crime prevention measures, such as car park barriers and enhanced CCTV, with the average wholesaler spending £4m in security, she added.

“This is so they’ve got every chance of giving enough evidence for prosecution,” Cambridge said. “We don’t want to criticise police, but our evidence shows there is a woeful response when there is a violent crime and high-value theft. Without a police response, our members cannot do any more than what they are already doing.”

The FWD has called on government to extend the pending legislation that makes assaulting a retail worker a standalone offence to wholesale workers.

“We must make sure there is a really clear definition of what a wholesale worker is and that it is extended to anyone who works in a cash & carry setting or drivers who are moving high-value goods to their intended convenience store,” said Cambridge.

“We feel if that doesn’t happen then will see a displacement of crime moving from the high street to cash & carry warehouses because they will be out of scope of this protected status and potentially seen as the weaker link. We do not want to move the problem from one place in society to another.”