For years, Launceston retailers have been fighting a battle against thieves.
Small businesses continue to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to shoplifters and despite owners joining force with local police to crack down on the issue, offenders continue to take from them.
But one retailer won’t give up.
Autobarn Launceston owner Rod Patterson said the small business community was “going to keep fighting”.
Referring to a recent case in the Launceston Magistrates Court where a man was handed a partly-suspended jail term for stealing more than $31,000 worth of property from multiple businesses across two years, Mr Patterson said there was a need for more options when sentencing.
“If he embezzled that, or stole it from Centrelink … it would be totally different,” he said.
The frustrated business owner has been dealing with thieves for more than 20 years.
“Whether it’s a $2 fuse you’re stealing off me or a $2000 navigation system, you’re stealing off my family and you’re stealing off my team’s family,” he said.
In December, the state government said it would give retailers more power. Justice Minister Elise Archer said business owners would be able to stop shoplifters before they leave the store.
This would include giving retailers power to inspect customer bags, make it easier for them to ban entry to their premises, establishing a no-interest loans scheme for businesses to install high-quality CCTV and working with Tasmania Police to increase police presence in shopping precincts.
However Bass Labor candidate Adam Gore said the push for more bag searches “has the potential to impinge on the majority of shoppers who do the right thing”.
“Labor is committed to addressing the reasons why people end up committing crimes like shoplifting. If we invest in health, education and housing we’ll reverse crime rates.”
The maximum penalty for a first offence for shoplifting an amount under $5000 is currently 12 months in jail, and up to five years for a subsequent offence.