Theft and violent crime at retailers and public-facing shops have skyrocketed in recent years, industry experts say. It’s omnipresent, sweeping across North America.

It’s caused some companies to shutter, others to rethink how they serve their customers. It’s become the focus of task forces and, recently, a national conference in Canada. It costs the industry billions of dollars annually, experts say, but the true number is not known because theft is vastly underreported.

Meanwhile, inflation persists. The cost of groceries continues to rise — prices increased 10.6 per cent this February compared to last. For seven consecutive months, the inflation rate for groceries has hit double-digit increases.

Gabrielle Piché writes on the factors contributing to the crimes.

To read more of this story first reported by the Winnipeg Free Press, click here.

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This is not a good thing. But it's obviously a side effect of more fundamental social shifts, like people getting poorer. And those social shifts in turn are caused by decisions on the part of government and big corporations. Some people steal because they're desperate, some because they're struggling and disaffected by the system, and some because they've actually bought into the system's official values (greed, selfishness, devil take the hindmost). Few people are willing to accept the idea that it's OK if Galen Weston does it, but not if they do.

That's not going to change unless we, at a minimum, make homes affordable and rein in monopoly profiteering and financial sector predation.

Meanwhile, the magnitude of shoplifting pales in comparison to wage theft and is absolutely minuscule compared to the dollar value of white collar crime. Citigroup alone make more bucks from fraud in a year than shoplifting takes in a decade.