Kids used as distraction for stealing

By Victoria White

1 comment
CRIME: Specsavers Optometrists co-owner Mark Blades said thefts like the recent spate were relatively common. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND.
CRIME: Specsavers Optometrists co-owner Mark Blades said thefts like the recent spate were relatively common. PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND.

Shoplifting continues to be problematic for retailers with some people even using their children to get away with stealing goods.

Retailers said a group of adults and children went into optometrist stores in the Napier CBD last week, with adults taking items while the children were used to distract staff.

The stores realised the connection when stolen goods from one store were left at the next one hit.

At Specsavers Optometrists the group got away with three pairs of glasses.

Co-owner Mark Blades said there had been "a bit of theft of late".

"It happens all day everyday," he said, "it's nothing new to me, I've been in retail for a long time.

"It's unfortunate but it happens in all societies."

Another retailer, who did not want the name of her store reported, said the group had taken $500 worth of goods from her shop.

"It was a gang of four adults and four children," she said. "They used distracting tactics ... the four kids were running around the shop and the adults were taking things, one was trying to get behind the counter.

"It was four adults using their young kids as part of the crime which is really sad."

Staff were able to get the group's car registration number, and identify the people for police.

A staff member at another optometrist store said the group had taken four pairs of sunglasses from them.

Napier City Business Inc manager Zoe Barnes said unfortunately shoplifting was relatively prevalent in the CBD.

She said sometimes shoplifters were able to bamboozle staff, as Tuesday's group had done with their children. "They're professionals and they know what they're doing," she said. "This is their bread and butter, they're not just giving it a go."

After becoming more aware of shoplifters over the summer, the business association is working to educate retailers on how they can prevent thefts.

A large number of retailers in the CBD are involved with a "text tree" where they can text a central number with descriptions of shoplifters which is then sent to other retailers so they are a step ahead.

Unfortunately no texts were sent about the group as the manager of the prevention tactic had recently changed.

Other retailers spoken to in the Napier said shoplifting was unfortunately very common.

Boardzone manager Kane Riley said items had been stolen from his store with culprits from elderly people to tourists. "Nothing gets done about it, [retailers] have no leg to stand on," he said. "Once they're gone you don't get the product back and they'll [shoplifters] just stay away for a few weeks.

"People are getting to the point where they're just getting frustrated ... frustrated that nothing is done about it."

A homewares store manager, who also did not want to be identified, said they had their fair share of incidents, but it was often difficult to tell if they had been hit, and how much had been taken.

Occasionally it was also hard to tell who the culprits were as they weren't always "lower class people", she said, with the store a target for housewives and older people who "get their jollies out of it".

"They work in packs, they're professional. You'll get one coming to your attention and another two taking things," she said.

"Times are hard and people are just looking for the opportunity."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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