29 Jul 2019

Retailers want police help as thieves steal $3.5b of goods

2:04 pm on 29 July 2019

Retailers want a dedicated taskforce to tackle the billion-dollar losses the industry is enduring from thefts.

Shoplifter stealing bar of chocolate in a supermarket.

Retailers in New Zealand and Australia lost $3.5bn to theft in the year to June. Photo: 123RF

Retail New Zealand chief executive Greg Harford said theft is an increasing problem for retailers.

"Retail crime costs the sector about a billion dollars a year in terms of losses," Mr Harford said.

"We would really like the police to focus more on retail crime. It is certainly something we hope the government will come back and look at again."

A police spokesperson said it was aware of the call from the industry, but resources were tight, and it put its efforts into tackling the most serious cases.

"Police work closely with our retail partners with this prevention focus, including working with loss prevention staff throughout the country."

Retailers in New Zealand and Australia lost A$3.37 billion (NZ$3.5bn) to theft in the year to June, according to a report by the Profit Protection Future Forum.

Its survey of 9000 retailers found customers were responsible for 57 percent of losses. The rest was theft by employees and suppliers.

Clothing stores, supermarkets, and department stores were the worst hit, with telecommunications retailers losing the most value as a proportion of revenue.

Retail NZ spokesman Greg Harford

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford. Photo: Supplied

A spokesperson for Foodstuffs, owner of New World, Pak 'n Save and Four Square, said customers pay for theft at the end of the day.

"Shoplifting in general is an ever-present problem for retailers and our stores have robust strategies to combat it.

"Sadly, increasing security costs are likely to be passed on to customers - so everyone loses."

Foodstuffs has increased security, including more cameras and in-store disguised staff.

A spokesperson for Countdown, which operates the Woolworths chain, said most customers were honest, but theft was a reality.

It had security cameras at its stores and had supervisors and security guards present.