Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Trolley bandits hit supermarket shelves

Supermarkets targeted by two thieves who fill their carts and run off without paying.

The two men believed to be behind the spate of thefts.
The two men believed to be behind the spate of thefts.

Two thieves have stolen thousands of dollars worth of groceries from supermarkets and shops across Auckland by filling trolleys and running out of the store - past other shoppers and staff trying to stop them - to their getaway car.

Police have released images of the men they believe are behind the thefts in a bid to identify and arrest them.

So far, five shops have been targeted across Auckland, as well as a West Auckland service station where the trolley bandits allegedly put $92 of petrol into a car and drove off without paying.

It is estimated that in each of the five incidents, the thieves pinched between $500 and $1000 worth of grocery items.

Constable Marisa Cox said the men walked into the stores with an empty shopping trolley or basket. They then walked around, filling the carriers with assorted grocery items before running out of the entrance doors without paying.

"The offenders fill their trolleys with general grocery items. However they did hit one store for hams and meat products - this one was just before Christmas," Ms Cox said.

"The pair decamp driving either a white Mazda Familia vehicle with incorrect number plates attached, or a grey Nissan vehicle."

The first theft was on November 13 just before 9pm. The other four occurred between December 7 and 27, between lunchtime and 4.45pm.

Ms Cox said the affected store owners did not want their locations published, but the majority of the thefts happened at supermarkets. "We have good CCTV footage of the two offenders, however at this point we have no idea who they are," Ms Cox said.

"The trolleys are completely full of groceries and sometimes they take two trolleys full of groceries."

The men are described as being Maori or Pacific Islanders in their 30s or 40s.

"They are definitely brazen offenders as they do this directly in front of members of the public," said Ms Cox. "They do not stop when approached by staff or members of the public."

Figures released to the Herald by the Ministry of Justice show that between 2009 and 2012, 18,341 people were convicted of shoplifting.

The Retailers Association estimates that each day in New Zealand, between $1 million and $2 million is lost in sales as a direct result of shoplifting and theft.

Aerosol cans, clothes, meat and alcohol were among the most popular items for shoplifters.

Foodstuffs spokeswoman Jo Jalfon said Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square stores had "robust processes" in place to minimise shoplifting, including the presence of professional security and security cameras in and around the retail outlets.

Can you help?
If you recognise either of these men, please contact Constable Marisa Cox on (09) 213 8127 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- NZ Herald

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