2017 England and Wales Shoplifting Study

Shoplifting doesn't just cost retailers vast amounts of money, it also affects consumers as those costs are passed on through higher retail prices. In addition to the cost of the stolen items, there are also costs associated with installing shoplifting prevention measures; with return fraud (when stolen items are returned to the shop in exchange for other goods or cash); and legal fees; all of which are typically recouped through the price of goods.

A new study by LoveMyVouchers.co.uk has revealed the areas in England and Wales that are most affected by shoplifting, and has discovered a marked increase in the crime from the previous year. The data was taken from the police database, and was weighted by population in order to reveal the areas with the highest and lowest shoplifting rates.

Shoplifting Hotspots in England and Wales

Key Findings

  • There was an 7.6% increase in the number of shoplifting crimes reported in England and Wales in 2016 from the previous year.
  • The area with the highest shoplifting rate (number of incidents as a percentage of the population) was Westminster; with New Bond Street and Regent Street amongst the main hotspots.
  • Other areas with a high shoplifting rate included Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne and Norwich.
  • Police Forces in the North East of England had the highest shoplifting crime rates, with Cleveland Police and Northumbria Police in the top two.
  • The areas with the lowest shoplifting crime rates include Maldon in Essex, Rutland in Leicestershire, and Mid Suffolk.
  • The police force with the lowest shoplifting rate was Dyfed Powys in Wales.

Areas with the Highest Shoplifting Rates

Westminster was identified as the area with the highest shoplifting levels in 2016. This is not surprising, as it includes many of London's main shopping streets, such as Regent Street and New Bond Street. A shoplifting rate of 1.72% was calculated for the area, showing the number of incidents as a percentage of the population. This works out as one incident per 58 people. The total number of crimes reported for 2016 was 4178, which was up 229 from the previous year.

The area with the second highest shoplifting rate was Middlesbrough, at 1.56%, or one crime reported per 64 people. The total number of incidents was 2174, which was down 1 from the previous year.

Also in the North East of England, Newcastle upon Tyne reported the third highest incidents of shoplifting when weighted by population. One shoplifting crime was reported per 65 people, a rate of 1.55%, with a total of 4536 crimes reported. This is figure is up 715 from 2015.

Other areas with the highest shoplifting rates include Norwich, Oxford, Hartlepool, and Lincoln.

Shoplifting Hotspots by Number of Incidents

The interative map plots the top 20 locations with the highest number of reported shoplifting incidents in 2016, taken from map co-ordinates.

Many of the hotspots corresponded with UK shopping centres, such as the Bluewater Complex in Dartford. With an estimated annual footfall of 28m, the centre reported one crime per 39,381 visitors.

Other shopping centres in the top 20 included the intu Merry Hill Shopping Centre in Dudley, where one crime was reported per 50,228 visitors; and the intu Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester, where one crime was reported per 103,448 visitors.

Although Bluewater appears to be the top shopping centre for shoplifting crimes, this may be the way the figures are reported. For some shopping centres, several different co-ordinates appear to correspond with the mall, which could mean that it is divided up into specific areas.


Areas with the Lowest Shoplifting Rates

The lowest shoplifting rate of just 0.09% was found in the Maldon area in Essex. This works out at one incident reported per 1063 people. The total number of crimes reported for 2016 was just 59, and was down 10 from the previous year.

Similar results were found for Rutland in Leicestershire, and Mid Suffolk, the areas with the second and third lowest levels of shoplifting. One incident was reported per 1056 people residing in Rutland; and the total number of crimes was just 36, down 8 from the previous year. In the Mid Suffolk area, one incident was reported per 1048 people, with the total number of crimes at 95. This is down 22 from the previous year.

Other areas in the top ten include Broadland in Norfolk, Hart in Hampshire, South Cambridgeshire, South Staffordshire, Wealden in Sussex, Tandridge in Surrey, and Ryedale in North Yorkshire.

Hover over the bars in the following table to view further details for each of the areas.

 Retail crime cost the industry £613m in 2014/2015; up 2% on the previous year. 

The average cost of customer theft increased year on year between 2008/2009 and 2014/2015, from £45 to a huge £325, according to the BRC's latest annual Retail Crime Survey. Customer theft accounted for around 83% of the incidents of retail crime in 2014/2015, putting it at its highest level on record. Theft of high value goods by organised gangs is thought to account for part of the increase in average value.

New figures released from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have revealed that nearly a third of the population were below Minimum Income Standard levels. With business rates on the rise this year for many businesses, this may push prices up even further, making the cost of living even less affordable. As more people find themselves unable to make ends meet, is this likely to raise shoplifting levels even further, forming a vicious circle?

Shoplifting Rates for Police Force Areas

The Police Force with the highest number of shoplifting incidents adjusted for population was Cleveland Police, with a shoplifting rate of 1.23%. This includes the Middlesborough and Hartlepool areas, both of which were in the list of towns with the highest shoplifting levels. The hotspots for shoplifting crime within the Cleveland jurisdiction include the Marina in Hartlepool, the Cleveland Shopping Centre in Middlesbrough, the Hillstreet Shopping Centre in Middlesbrough, and Stockton High Street in Stockton-on-Tees.

Northamptonshire Police and Northumbria Police had the second highest proportion of shoplifting crimes for the population, with one crime reported for every 116 people, and a shoplifting rate of 0.86%.

The hotspots in Northamptonshire included Market Walk Shopping Centre and Kingsthorpe Shopping Centre in Northampton, as well as Swinburne Road in Wellingborough.

The hotspots in Northumbria included the intu Eldon Shopping Centre and the shopping areas around Blackett Street and Nun Street in Newcastle city centre also had a high rate of shoplifting offences.


The Police Force with the lowest shoplifting rate was Dyfed Powys in Wales, with one crime reported per 335 people, or a rate of 0.3%.

Other Police Forces with low shoplifting rates included Surrey Police, and Devon and Cornwall Police.

Click the arrow to increase the nodes to 386 in the chart below. This will allow you to view the areas within each Police Force, weighted by shoplifting rates.

The data for this study has been collected from the Police Database. Whilst we have discovered deficiencies in the raw data that are beyond our control, LoveMyVouchers.co.uk have made every effort to ensure that the data used has been correctly interpreted, and is accurate and up to date.

Population data is based on the estimates from the Office of National Statistics.

The data table used for this study is available to view through Google Docs and can be found here.

City of London was excluded from the study due to its low population.