Newsagent murdered as new retail violence surveys published

Ravi Katharkamar

Shop theft and age-restricted sales are key triggers for violence and abuse against shopworkers, a new Usdaw survey has found. Its publication came just days before the murder of a newsagent in Pinner, north-west of London.

Fifty-four-year-old Ravi Katharkamar (pictured) died after being stabbed while opening the store at about 6am on Sunday (24 March). Detectives said the shop’s till had been stolen and may have been dumped somewhere by the robber. A 44-year-old man has been detained in connection with the incident. The till has yet to be traced.

Usdaw’s survey revealed that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are increasing problem. It found that in 2018:

  • Nearly two-thirds of shopworkers experienced verbal abuse
  • Over 40% were threatened by a customer
  • On average over 280 were assaulted every day

The survey also found that the top triggers of these incidents are: 25% shop theft, 22% age-restricted sales and 21% sale of alcohol.

The British Retail Consortium also released its latest annual retail crime survey. This revealed:

  • On average, 115 retail employees were attacked every day
  • The combined cost of spending on crime prevention and losses from crime to the industry is £1.9bn
  • Over £700m was lost due to customer theft alone, a rise of 31% on the previous year

Calling for stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers, Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis said it was time for the Government to “sit up and listen”.

He said: “Our survey finds that enforcing the law on alcohol sales and other age restricted products accounts for almost half of incidents. A quarter of assaults and abuse are caused by theft from shops and we really have to question how much cuts in policing have contributed to a 30% increase in shoplifting over the last 10 years.”

Commenting on the murder, NFRN National President Mike Mitchelson said the newsagent was “simply going about his daily business”. He added: “This crime was both shocking and senseless and the NFRN calls on politicians and police everywhere to make sure that the issue of retail crime is addressed and quickly before other independent retailers become victims.”