WASHINGTON – Thefts from retailers and other inventory “shrink” grew to $48.9 billion in 2016 from $45.2 billion the year before even as budget constraints left retail security budgets flat or declining, according to the annual National Retail Security survey released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida. The thefts amounted to 1.44% of sales, up from 1.38%.

“Retailers are proactive in combatting criminal activity in their stores but acknowledge that they still have a lot of work left to do,” stated Bob Moraca VP loss prevention NRF. “The job is made much more difficult when loss prevention experts can’t get the money they need to beef up their staffs and resources. Retail executives need to realize that money spent on preventing losses is money that improves the bottom line.”

According to the report, 48.8% of retailers surveyed reported increases in inventory shrink, while only 16.7% said it remained flat. Shrink was divided into shoplifting and organized retail crime (36.5%),…