Crimes against small business in Australia: a preliminary analysis


In 1999 the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA) planned a nation-wide survey. This survey, the largest ever of crime against small business, analysed responses from 4,315 small businesses in the retail food, retail liquor, newsagent, pharmacy and service station sectors. This paper reports preliminary results of victimisation and revictimisation.

Of the Australia-wide sample, 51.5 per cent experienced crime victimisation. In order, the highest prevalence was of theft from premises, followed by burglary, vandalism, credit card fraud and employee theft. Respondents who had been victimised reported a mean (average) of 38 incidents (this includes multiple shoplifting incidents) while the median was four incidents (half the businesses experienced more than four and half less than four incidents).

Many small businesses experienced “repeat victimisation”— mostly for credit card fraud, vandalism, assault/threat/intimidation, employee theft and burglary. Businesses were most vulnerable in the first four years of operation and medium sized businesses were victimised more than very small businesses. The mean loss was $7,818 per victim, while the median was $1,500. Four per cent of victims were forced to close for half a day or more following a crime. This represents a significant loss to our wellbeing.

This is the first release of data from this pioneering study. The Australian Institute of Criminology will release further data as it is analysed.

This project was funded by the Crime Prevention Branch of the Criminal Justice Division, Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department.