Baby food at top of shoplifting list

BABY food and razor blades are the most shoplifted items in Tasmania during tough economic times, according to the Australian Retailers Association.

Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said the cost of shoplifting to state businesses last financial year totalled $155.4 million - or $300 per Tasmanian.

He said nationwide, the figure was a staggering $7.5billion.

"The ARA suspects there would be a slight increase given the economically tough times consumers are facing as a result of financial pressures, including high interest rates, increased petrol prices and new taxes, and this can result in a surge in shoplifting, especially of everyday items," Mr Zimmerman said.

"Commonly stolen items during economically tough times include razor blades, baby food, cosmetics and batteries.

"Businesses most affected include those without security procedures in place as well as bigger, more dispersed stores such as department stores and those with smaller and more general items."

The Australian Institute of Criminology estimates there are 7.3 million incidents of shoplifting a year.

Launceston City Mission emergency relief worker Maryann Midson said many young mothers who fronted for emergency assistance could not afford to buy new formula or even nappies for their children before the next pay day.

She said the City Mission had received five new clients a day over the summer.

Mrs Midson surveyed Launceston parents last month who had been forced off parenting payments to the Newstart allowance by Centrelink and found single mums were losing $130 to $260 from the family budget each week.

"I had one lady who said she may need to sell household possessions or find full-time work," Mrs Midson said.

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