According to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (by self-storage company Space Station), items worth more than £184m were stolen from businesses across the UK between 2013 and 2016.
As reported to 20 constabularies in the three-year period, there were 842,752 cases of business theft, which is defined as "recorded offences of theft of commercial goods from businesses", including theft from shops and stalls, thieves running away without paying, attempted theft and employee theft.
Greater Manchester is reported as having the highest recorded number of thefts, with 141,887 cases between 2013 and 2016, followed by West Yorkshire (110,053), Derbyshire (96,369), Essex (84,253) and Kent (69,048).
Of the eight constabularies that provided data on the value of the crimes, says Space Station, Greater Manchester once again came top, with £71m worth of items stolen from businesses from 2013 to 2016, with Kent (£40,758,827) and West Yorkshire (more than £34 million) some way below. Northamptonshire suffered the biggest increase in incidences of business theft, followed by Bedfordshire, Lancashire and Cambridge.
Vlatka Lake of Space Station said: "Although many of these crimes aren't preventable, it's important to be extra vigilant to stop cases like this recurring and to safeguard people's livelihoods.
"We highly recommend that businesses invest in secure storage solutions and take necessary steps to deter criminals. A well-lit space that is laid out to remove any hidden corners or 'blindspots' can deter opportunists. Business owners can also look into alternative areas to hold their stock if they are going to be away from their premises for any period of time."
Government figures for England and Wales for 2016, published in May this year, found that the wholesale and retail sector suffered the highest crime rate, 13,426 incidents per 1,000 premises, although this figure had fallen significantly since 2012 (19,701). Shoplifting accounted for 67% of all crimes in the sector in 2016 in England and Wales.