Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Tauranga retailer strikes back with 'Wall of Shame'

Coin Save owner Tony Lin said he has used a wall of shame in his store for about a year to help deter theives. Photo/Ruth Keber
Coin Save owner Tony Lin said he has used a wall of shame in his store for about a year to help deter theives. Photo/Ruth Keber

A Tauranga store owner is fighting back against alleged shoplifters who he says are costing him more than $4000 a year.

Tony Lin, owner of Coin Save Gate Pa, set up a "wall of shame" about a year ago to deter thieves in the area.

Shoplifting got noticeably worse over the school holidays, he said.

"A lot of people don't care. People will steal."

Mr Lin said he was aware of about 100 thefts a year from the shop - costing him about $4000 in lost products. However, there was probably more thefts that he was unaware of.

The most commonly stolen items were perfume, caps and T-shirts, he said.

The most expensive items taken were usually women's clothes. People would rip off the prices and safety tags in the changing room.

He showed the Bay of Plenty Times CCTV footage of a young woman sliding something into her handbag last week.

She paid for a second item.

"We don't want trouble," Mr Lin said. "If we catch someone doing it we just say 'you forgot to pay for something' and guide them to the counter."

The wall of shame deterred some young thieves because they feared their parents might notice their pictures on the wall, he said.

He reported only about five per cent of thefts to the police.

Coin Save owner Tony Lin said he has used a wall of shame in his store for about a year to help deter theives. Photo/Ruth Keber
Coin Save owner Tony Lin said he has used a wall of shame in his store for about a year to help deter theives. Photo/Ruth Keber

A Facebook group has been set up to name and shame alleged thieves across the wider Bay of Plenty too.

The Facebook page has more than 5500 likes where people post daily about new thefts across the wider Bay of Plenty.

The page featured pictures and CCTV footage of alleged thieves.

"Help us to minimise the crime in our city," the page reads.

Bayfair centre manager Steve Ellingford said it was up to individual stores whether they named and shamed shoplifters, but the centre did not encourage it.

If police provided information on thieves he would circulate that to store owners, he said.

The moderator of the Facebook page declined to comment for this story.

Police said such tactics could be useful for sharing and gathering information, but crime could not be officially reported through social media.

"Police do use social media as a tool for crime prevention, crime solving and reducing victimisation," a spokesperson said. "It is only one tool of many used by police when investigating and preventing crime."

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