Almost one in five UK adults admit to having shoplifted, and more than 4 million believe retailers deserve it.
According to Securicor research, 48 per cent know a friend or family member who has shoplifted, and 11 million think shoplifting from big retailers is less damaging than from small shops.
UK retailers face an average loss of nearly£3,000 a year per outlet from shoplifting, and have the highest shrinkage levels in Europe.
However, British Retail Consortium communications director David Southwell said: 'Shoplifting is not a victimless crime.' He pointed out that it adds an average of£100 to each household's shopping bill per year and can also lead to violence.
Retailers said they would not give up the fight to beat thieves. Woolworths head of corporate affairs Nicole Lander said: 'Woolworths takes the issue of crime in its stores extremely seriously and endeavours to prosecute any offenders. Retail civil recovery is widely used.'[QQ]