Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Bay stores getting smart to keep one step ahead of shoplifters

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Bay retailers say they are having to use various counter-measures to deter shoplifters who are always coming up with new tactics to try to beat them.

Foodstuffs New Zealand spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said shoplifting was a significant issue across the whole New Zealand retail sector.

"Foodstuffs takes the prevention of stock losses very seriously as it is an ongoing issue within our retail sector.

"There are many aspects to stock losses which we as a business need to manage, including customer theft. In a highly competitive retail business such as our own it is not possible to increase prices to cover theft losses. It is expected that we absorb the cost."

Ms Laird said all its New World, Pak n' Save and Four Square stores employed multiple strategies to deter and detect shoplifting.

Read more: Heartless thieves target city's charity shops

That included employing plain clothes floorwalkers to detect theft and potential offenders, training staff in the methods of theft and taking a zero tolerance approach reporting all incidents to police.

Ms Laird said various other prevention and detection measures were deployed, which were confidential for obvious reasons

"Due to the fact that some of our data is commercially sensitive Foodstuffs is unable to provide the exact figures on stock loss across our business," she said.

Progressive Ltd's Countdown spokesman James Walker said: "At Countdown we serve 2.7 million customers a week around New Zealand. From time-to-time, shoplifting can occur. We have a number of security measures in place to detect and prevent this.

"These measures include CCTV, security tags on certain items and supervisors at check-outs. Our staff are trained to deal with instances of suspected shoplifting. We also work closely with New Zealand Police on crime prevention, across our network of stores."

Downtown Tauranga manager Sally Cooke said over the Christmas-New Year period she did not have any reports of increased incidents of shoplifting in the CBD.

"But it's an unfortunate part of the whole retail industry that retailers are faced with, and something every retailer does try hard to stamp out. That includes them trying to keep up-to-date with the latest tactics used by offenders and addressing those tactics appropriately."

Mrs Cooke said: "At the end of the day it's about businesses having savvy staff working on the shop floor making sure they're constantly looking out for offenders and staying vigilant."

A zero tolerance approach was recommended, she said.

'"We tell our members their first port of call is to ring the police to deal with the matter."

Papamoa Plaza manager David Hill said shoplifting was not a main problem for the centre.

The summer had seen "no more and no less than usual" shoplifting incidents despite record numbers coming through their doors, he said. Mr Hill said focusing on deterrents had resulted in minimising the impact of shoplifting.

Police did not respond to calls before the edition went to print.

Tactics used by retailers to deter shoplifters
- Employing plain clothed floorwalkers
- Training staff in the theft methods
- Using and monitoring security cameras
- Security tagging high risk and frequently stolen items
- Employing in-store loss prevention managers
- Reporting all thefts to police
- Trespassing recidivist offenders

- Bay of Plenty Times

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