Since leaving hospital earlier this week I have heard of a number of thefts of trade fixtures and fittings from shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels than ever before. A number of these thefts that I have been informed about have happened to business owners who are also personal friends of mine I know that theft and burglary have been around as crimes since time immemorial and hardly a week goes by without an associate who is a builder, plumber, electrician or shop fitter mentioning to me that their Ford Transit has been broken into and that something has been stolen, usually it is thousands of pounds worth of tools. I do feel for these guys. It can take days to get their businesses back on track and cause hardship and can lose them customers. They have to get vehicles repaired, source new tools, sometimes travelling long distances to pick up new tools and then there is dealing with insurance companies. If I hate dealing with insurance companies then these tradesmen must really get annoyed with insurers!
What is alarming about these new thefts that I am hearing about as a former business broker and the publisher of The Weekly Deals Free Sheet is this. These criminals are stealing very bulky items such as tobacco gantries, multi deck refrigerator units, fryers, display fridges and much more. I do know that these pieces of kit cost an awful lot of money to purchase for the publican, restauranteur, caterer or shop keeper. Then there are the sorts of losses I mention above, which can be no fun for these trades and the possibility of having to close such an expensive and costly unit can only strike fear into business owner.
The rate is alarming too, you see I am in contact with a large number of publicans, restauranteurs, caterers, hoteliers and shop keepers. I have heard of eight such thefts in the past 10 days! I started writing this blog at 10:45 am on Sunday I have been interrupted a few times and while writing have been told that a shop keeper friend of mine has had a multi deck unit stolen overnight. He needs a new window, repairs to some display units that were damaged and some other repairs to his shop as well as a new multi deck unit. A lot of stock was thrown around as well. The new unit will cost £3,000 excluding VAT. However with everything else the total cost is close to £10,000! This makes 9 thefts in 11 days. Some of these trade items can cost over £5,000 each!
A business that has to close because of these thefts causes more costs and loss of customers who may well not come back again, that is future trade lost too. Most owners of businesses such as these report that usually and previously any break in or burglary would result in the perpetrators going straight for the tills and trying to raid them for cash even though most of these businesses do not keep cash on the premises at all let alone overnight and that cash use is diminishing in view of chip and pin use. Some report that the odd peckish or thirsty thief has helped themselves to a can of pop or a bar of chocolate!
The associated costs such as new glass for a custom front where the glass has been smashed can add more cost to the already rising cost of a theft and at some point this is going to push prices up for the man in the street. The shop keeper would have no option but to pass the cost by adding 10 pence to the price of a bottle of pop for example. The takeaway owner might have to add fifty or sixty pence to the price of a portion of fish and chips. This is where it starts to affect everyone. This is not a good thing. Prices for everything are always rising and wages do not rise enough to keep track and thus everyone is worse off.
Any owner of any business will tell you that currently things are very tough, this sort of crime adds to business problems and can cause other issues for the business owner such as health issues.
One wish is that the police get a grip on crime such as these thefts and tool theft and play their part in improving the business climate and make life easier and less stressful for the small business owner.
Life the small business owner is hard enough as it is and my other wish is that the rate and frequency of these thefts eases and allows more small business owners to go to sleep at night with one less thing to worry about!