There was a record number of shoplifting crimes committed in Sussex last year.

Sussex Police recorded roughly 12,900 shoplifting offences in the year to June, up from 8,906 the previous period.

This year’s figures are the highest since equivalent records began in June 2007 sparking frustrating and fear among retailers.

James Lowman, chief executive at the Association of Convenience Store, said: "Convenience retailers are facing unprecedented levels of theft against their businesses at the hands of prolific offenders who are targeting stores repeatedly without fear of reproach.

"These incidents take a huge toll on retailers and their colleagues, so it’s crucial that every incident reported to the police gets investigated."

He said the ONS figures show a rise in reported shoplifting to police, but only represent "a fraction" of what is happening.

"The vast majority of theft still goes unreported, as retailers are frustrated at the lack of response and follow-up activity from their local police forces," he added.

It follows trends across England and Wales where reports of shoplifting increased 25%, from 293,000 offences in 2021 to 2022 to 365,200 last year.

However, it was below the 368,700 shoplifting crimes recorded in 2019, before the pandemic.

Overall theft offences have increased 10% from the previous year, with 1.7 million crimes recorded in the year to June.

The ONS said this rise was predominantly the result of increases in theft offences against businesses, such as shoplifting.

In Sussex, police recorded about 39,400 theft offences in 2022-2023. It was a rise from 33,700 the year before.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary at the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, said: "Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shop workers.

"Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers."

READ MORE: Entire Sussex school banned from McDonald's due to 'abusive students'

The overall number of crimes recorded by police in England and Wales in the year to June 2023 stood at 6.7 million, compared with 6.5 million over the previous year.

The latest increase across has mainly been driven by the increase in shoplifting, together with a jump in fraud offences against businesses – more of which are being reported due to action by industry bodies, the ONS said.

Sussex Police recorded 129,200 total crimes in the year to June – up from 123,400 in 2021 to 2022.