From July 2007 to June 2008, nimble-fingered thieves swiped goods worth an estimated 5.8 billion kronor ($730 million) from stores in Sweden.
The Global Retail Theft Barometer analyzed shoplifting trends at 1,426 stores and 17 different retail chains in Sweden.
Checkpoint Systems, the company behind the study, noted that thefts account for 1.35 percent of turnover, up from 1.32 percent last year.
“We are still worst in the Nordic region, and worst by quite some distance. We are closer to levels in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe,” Checkpoint Systems’ Swedish manager Louise Alplin told the TT news agency.
Since the cost of stolen goods is added to the price paid by consumers, Alplin reckons that shoplifting costs a family of four 2,520 kronor every year.
“It’s an awful lot of money – this really hits us consumers,” said Alplin.
“We in Sweden really aren’t doing enough to fight this.”
As a manufacturer and distributor of security systems for the retail industry, Checkpoint Systems has an interest in seeing Sweden get more serious about combating shoplifting.
But Alpin doesn’t think the firm’s line of business compromises the validity of the report, pointing to evidence in the study which shows that a reduction in thefts can clearly be seen following an investment in security.
According to the study, about half of shoplifting in Sweden is carried out by customers, while employees are responsible for about 31 percent, up one percentage point from the previous year.
But when measured by value, the difference between what customers and employees pilfer is quite large.
Across Europe, customers steal items with an average value of 700 kronor, whereas employees—some of whom are involved in large scale fraud—make off with an average of 20,613 kronor worth or merchandise.
Aplin believes Swedes suffers from a naïve belief that they are better than they really are and a fear of confronting what lies behind theft complaints.
“We don’t want to think badly of our employees. But it’s time to get a grip on this problem,” she said.
Swedish stores invested around 1.4 billion kronor in theft prevention measures during the time the study was conducted, which is less than the previous year.
Aplin believes that the weak economy will result in a further drop in stores’ desire to invest in protection against shoplifting.
“There are surely many who think that way, but I think it can come back to bite you in the form of more theft,” she said.