|The News - In the Media|
|Written by The Stratford Press|
|Friday, 16 January 2009|
HIDING a chocolate bar in your bag or sneaking a bottle of deodorant into your jacket pocket so you don’t have to pay for them are both examples of shoplifting - no excuses. The owners at Stratford New World knew they had shoplifting issues, but it wasn't until recently when state-of-the-art surveillance equipment was installed that they discovered how serious the problem was.Co-owner Craig Waite said once the staff had received training with the new equipment it was like turning on a switch. It was totally unbelievable. All of a sudden we were catching shoplifters everywhere. We knew the problem was there, but not to what extent, he said. Craig said all shoplifters no matter what age or reason were referred to police and the offender is also trespassed from the store for two years. We have been keeping the police quite busy over the past few months and they have been great. They come down straight away and have been really keen and supportive.
Craig said he felt very frustrated by anyone who tried shoplifting at the grocery store. It’s a complete pain and very time consuming. Instead of improving the store and its standards we have to deal with the negative impacts left by shoplifters. I tend to look at people differently now and it’s a shame. The sad thing is that shoplifters are a very small minority. Some days the team at Stratford New World will catch four or five shoplifters. Craig said each incident is different with the amount taken varying between a few dollars to up to a few hundred dollars worth of goods.
Health and beauty products and meat tend to be the most common items stolen. One offender will take only a package of hair dye and try and hide it in their jacket pocket while another offender will fill up their handbag taking two bottles of wine, packets of steak plus a dozen health and beauty products.Craig said it’s not just youth offending either, children as young as eight and many elderly people are also offenders. There is no one age group – it’s anybody and any race. It’s totally crazy. As the only supermarket in town Craig can’t see the logic in trying to shoplift, especially with the two-year trespass.
The other part is that all offenders are then entered onto a retail shoplifting website run by Shared Faces, which allows other retail businesses and supermarkets to view local offenders regularly. So if you have been stealing from here supermarkets in Hawera and New Plymouth will know. Craig said many supermarkets involved with Foodstuffs are connected to the website, as well as a few local businesses in town. All of the footage recorded from the numerous cameras is also stored for weeks so staff can go over footage later if needed.Craig said the team at Stratford New World have recently employed a person to solely monitor the cameras.
Craig is very keen to share information and ideas with other business members of the community to help curb this problem. I can guarantee people we have caught shoplifting here will be shoplifting elsewhere.
Scott Newland from Shared Faces has contacted the Press offering his services to local businesses for a community retail town meeting for all business owners and staff to be up skilled on shoplifters. Scott will help teach practical advice (signage, body language, consequences etc...) Basically, he can help eliminate shoplifting from our town with our help.If you would like to be involved please contact Jessica at the Press 765 5471or Craig from Stratford New World so a public meeting can be arranged.
Shoplifting in any form is stealing, which is wrong. If you are unable to afford groceries or other items the local foodbank, Work and Income and other community groups and churches are here to help.
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