A senior police sergeant says retail theft is not a victimless crime, as the loss to Canterbury businesses from shoplifting is estimated to be about $1.8 million a week. Canterbury police are cracking down on these rising theft rates through a one-month prevention operation.
The loss to retailers in the region equates to about $250,000 a day.
Acting senior sergeant Huata Martindale says retail theft in Canterbury has been on the rise in the past five years.
Thefts are occurring particularly often in July and August, which coincides with the school holidays.
To combat this, police have launched a month long operation called “Operation Shop”, which involves doing high-visibility patrols in shopping centres and malls in the area.
They’ve also been working with businesses on steps they can take to prevent their businesses from being a target.
Martindale says retailers have been consulting with police and security providers throughout the year and have installed prevention systems, such as CCTV.
“This, combined with adopting other strategies to prevent opportunistic crime, has a positive benefit on a business’s bottom line,” Martindale says.
“The timely reporting of thefts allows police and retailers to monitor social media and online forums and take steps that could not only lead to offenders being identified but help prevent the on-sale of stolen goods.”
In the first two weeks of the operation, police arrested and charged over 75 people with dishonesty offences.
Some of the offenders were youths, who were then referred on to Youth Services.
Some of the charges stemmed from historical complaints.
Two women aged 18 and 22 appeared in the Christchurch District Court earlier this month after police were alerted by mall security to a shoplifting incident.
Popular items to steal in the Canterbury region include clothing, electronics, groceries and meat.
Martindale says a national retailer who is regularly targeted for the theft of meat said they’d seen a significant decrease in stock loss since the operation begun.
He says it’s not unusual to see the stolen food, such as meat, pop up for sale on social media sites.
“Police encourage the community to report these posts and only purchase meat and groceries from reputable sources,” Martindale says.
He says retailers are also using cloud-based applications as a social network to share information amongst themselves about incidents, trends and active offenders.
This helps out both small, privately owned shops with low stock volumes as well as larger retailers, he says.
This is the second year the Canterbury Police have implemented Operation Shop.
Martindale told Stuff earlier this month that by the end of the first week of the operation, retail theft decreased 15 percent.
He said this meant $270,000 worth of goods stayed on shelves.
Police are encouraging members of the public to come forward if they see suspicious behaviour in and around shops and malls.
They are advised to alert staff, security or the police if they see anything.
This can also be done anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.