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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Crime costing small businesses €1.5bn a year countrywide

Less than 5pc have confidence in criminal justice system

Sarah Stack

Published 11/08/2014 | 13:48

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ISME' s Mark Fielding
ISME' s Mark Fielding said losses due to criminal activity can often be the final straw for struggling businesses.

Crime is costing small firms almost €15,000 a year with few bosses having any confidence in the justice system to catch or reprimand culprits.

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Almost four out of ten firms have been targeted by criminals in the last year, adding up to €1.5bn nationally, a crime survey found.

Only 5pc of small business owners surveyed said they are confident that a criminal would be apprehended if they were victimised, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) found.

An even smaller number – just 3pc - have faith that the judiciary would then act as a deterrent to the criminal against repeat offence,

Isme chief executive Mark Fielding warned losses due to criminal activity can often be the final straw for struggling owners.

A sixth do not even bother reporting crime to the authorities, believing it will be seen as 'too trivial' or likely to go unpunished.

“Not only does the small business sector appear to be under attack from crime but the probability of repeat victimisation is high and criminals know the risk of apprehension and penalty is low,” Mr Fielding said.

"Business crime must be taken more seriously by the relevant authorities and must be investigated and penalised accordingly to restore confidence in the justice system.”

The direct cost of crime has risen dramatically by 136pc since the start of the recession to an average €9,760 per enterprise per annum. Security measures add another €4,372 to the bill. A third also suffered disruption to trading.

Some 55pc were not covered by insurance for their loss due to crime.

The retail sector was worst affected, with more than half of all crime was reported in Dublin city,

Isme said calls for basic initiatives like tougher sentencing, more CCTV cameras and a more visible Garda presence are all to be falling on deaf ears.

"The current business environment is tough enough without owner-managers also having to be concerned with rising crime levels and costs,” Mr Fielding added.

“Business crime is a situation that has been allowed to deteriorate over time with little or no Government intervention.

“The fact that crime against business is not measured separately allows for it to be 'lumped in' with other crime and then disregarded.”

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