Business crime statistics from AXA show that Halifax currently tops the league for overall business crime, with businesses in Wolverhampton most at risk of theft and those in Kilmarnock of arson.
The company has this week unveiled its Business Crime Index (details below), revealing that some areas which have been hit hard by the economic crisis such as the North and the West Midlands are suffering as people turn to crime. The fear is that this will only rise in the run up to Christmas – particularly for retail businesses which will be more attractive to criminals due to increased stock levels and cash on premises.
AXA figures show that for the first half of 2009, the Halifax postcode area was the UK’s hotspot for crimes against businesses. Around one in 16 businesses in the area
was a victim of crime during the first six months of this year with malicious damage the most likely type of offence to be committed.
On a wider regional basis, Greater London was the hardest hit area of the country with six postcode areas in the top twenty, followed by Yorkshire & the Humber, North West England and the West Midlands, largely reflecting statistics that show the recession is hitting the West Midlands and North the hardest. In Scotland, only one postcode region, Motherwell, appears in the top 20 and that is right down at 17th place although Kilmarnock placed higher than anywhere else for arson, or wilful fire-raising as it is called in Scotland.
Top 20 UK postcode areas for overall business crime in H1 2009
5. London SE
7. London EC
19. St Albans
AXA’s Business Crime Index looks at the levels of crimes against businesses based on claims received by the company. These include arson, forcible theft , non-forcible theft and malicious damage.
The average cost of all claims is around £3,806 with an average forcible theft claim standing at nearly £4,500 for the first half of 2009 while arson claims average a massive £17,200.
As retail businesses increase stock levels for Christmas it provides richer pickings for thieves. As takings rise and shops stay open longer, the potential for lucrative hold-ups also increases.
Alongside this drunken revelry can lead to malicious damage or even arson attacks on business premises – a particular concern this year as the number of unoccupied and unprotected premises has increased with recession.
Doug Barnett, head of customer risk management at AXA says: “Crime against business is a serious issue and this year we are concerned that the continuing recession could prompt a rise around the Christmas period. We would urge all businesses to work with local communities and police to protect themselves as well as taking sensible precautions, not least making sure they are properly insured should the worst happen.
“With 36,200 businesses predicted to fail in 2009, we can’t stress enough the importance of insurance to avoid becoming part of that depressing statistic.
“Business crime can have a devastating impact on a business and its employees – we hope we can work with the business community to keep this to a minimum this Christmas.”
Tips for businesses in the run-up to Christmas
- Make sure your sums insured are adequate for increased stock
- Don’t block intruder alarms, sprinkler systems or fire exits with piles of Christmas stock
- Make sure you have alarms, sprinklers or other security equipment in good working order particularly if you are closing premises for any period over the Christmas holidays
- If you’re taking on additional staff, carry out thorough background checks and provide adequate training
- Consider extra security to protect your staff against drunken behaviour and prevent theft
- Regularly remove cash from tills during the working day and place takings within a safe (preferably with a time delay) – this will reduce the amount of cash stolen should a hold-up attack occur
- If large amounts of cash need to be banked or collected on a regular basis, then the safest method is to employ a recognised cash carrying company
- Be aware of how much money your policy will cover while on site, off site and during transit
 Data compiled from AXA’s claims records for January to June 2009. AXA analyses the percentage of claims in UK postcode areas against the number of policyholders, ranking them based on the comparative risk of crime, rather than on the total number of claims there have been.
 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report – Communities in Recession: 21 October 2009
 Where force has been used to enter or exit the building, e.g. breaking a window
 Where force has not been used to enter or exit a building. Includes hold-ups.
 BDO Stoy Hayward Industry Watch Summer 2009