Facebook added to shoplifting trends

THIEVES are taking orders for retail items over Facebook before heading to shops and stealing the wanted goods, says one Launceston retailer.

Shoplifting continued to be a problem for stores in the Launceston CBD last year, with sporting apparel, wallets, perfumes and vacuums just some of the items being stolen.

Harris Scarfe store manager Trudy Mauldon said theft in the store was rife, and occurred almost every day.

Ms Mauldon said she had seen shoplifters selling stolen goods on their personal Facebook page, or pages such as Launceston Buy and Sell.

``People tell them what they want and they will go out and steal it, or they sell stolen items through their own personal Facebook,'' Ms Mauldon said.

In desperation, Ms Mauldon said she had been networking with other retailers and monitoring known shoplifters.

``It is costing the store because we have had to bring in security which is not budgeted for . . . and obviously it affects the customers.

``If something is stolen, we have to sell another 18 of that item to make up for what is stolen.''

Sports Authority manager Jeff James said thieves had gotten more brazen in their stealing attempts.

``I'll be there talking, and they will be putting stuff in their pockets while you are talking to them,'' Mr James said.

``It is hard for some businesses.  If you are not profitable, your business closes or you have to put your prices up.''

Tasmania Small Business Council chief executive Robert Mallet said shoplifting was an ``insidious'' crime for small businesses that seriously affected their profits.

``The remedy is all about service.  Shoplifters can't steal anything if you are standing beside them offering help,'' Mr Mallet said.

``If you want to minimise or stop shoplifting you must start providing a really top level quality of service, and the shoplifters will go somewhere else.''

Launceston inspector Michael Johnston said shoplifting had not increased last year.

He said people buying from internet sites such as Gumtree and Facebook should always take precautions.

``Make sure you know what you are buying, who you are buying it from and that it is not stolen property.''

Email ibird@examiner.com.au

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