One of the best things to happen recently for retailers in Launceston and surrounds is to have the term “shoplifting” switched to “ shop stealing”. For far too long “shoplifting” was seen as a petty crime. But it is theft. Plain and simple.
It should not be disregarded or swept under the rug compared to other crimes. Shop stealing has ramifications for those who offend, those who are the target and the justice system.
For retailers, shop stealing can be the biggest expense. Whether it be security systems to reduce the incidences of theft or the stealing itself. It seems every retailer has this problem. Whether it be the national supermarket chain or the independent stall in Launceston’s central business district. But those stealing do not fit a certain mould.
Parents use children to steal. They take the pram and hide the items under the child or among the child’s gear at the bottom of the pram.
A decade or so ago people would switch items for less expensive ones – security measures prevent this now. For example they would place an $80 kettle into a $10 kettle box. This is stealing.
Unfortunately many children are involved in shop stealing. This goes beyond peer pressure or a dare, but rather due to their family situation, lack of role models and bad influences.
For some people, stealing is the ability to survive. It’s an act of absolute desperation to feed their children. It’s why many of us now live in Tasmania – our forebearers stealing bread and ending up halfway around the world as a convict.
But not everyone sits in this category. Some people steal because it’s easier than getting a job.
What all thieves forget is that help is available if they need a job or assistance paying the bills and that they are stealing from other families. Families who own the business and are trying to put food on their own table.
Thankfully Tasmania Police share the same thoughts as retailers and the majority of the community and have taken a strong stance in an effort to reduce shop stealing in our region.