Stores name and shame 'thieves'

By Anita Moran

1 comment

Rotorua shop owners are resorting to potentially illegal actions in a bid to prevent their stock being stolen.

Images taken from CCTV cameras have been appearing in several Rotorua stores as managers and owners try to catch people who have been shoplifting - but a leading Rotorua lawyer says shopkeepers identifying people as shoplifters is potentially illegal.

One Rotorua shop owner, who didn't want to be identified, told The Daily Post he had started putting up CCTV footage of "shoplifters" in both his Rotorua stores.

The man said customers could look at the images and identify those they recognised.

The man said he didn't always have images on display but would put them up sporadically.

One of his stores has images of three people he believes have stolen from his store.

"On this occasion, this is the second time these people have done this and they haven't been caught," he said.

"We decided to put the footage up and any information we get as a result we pass on to police."

Written under the images was the message: "Do you know these people, they are shoplifters".

"I don't know if it is entirely legal," the man said.

"But it sends the message that we won't put up with people who steal."

The man said he recently displayed images of someone he thought had shoplifted and the person ended up being identified by their father, who later came into the store.

"He wasn't best impressed."

Kamal Deol manages Super Liquor on Fenton St. He said he would put up images of those who he believed had stolen goods from his store.

He said the images were by the counter and people were asked to identify them. However, his images did not state why he wanted to know whose those people were.

He said the images were also given to police and, if customers identified those in the pictures, information was also passed on to police.

"I don't write on the photos and say these people are shoplifters. We just have the pictures there and say 'do you know these people'?"

Rotorua lawyer and New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm said actions taken by these shopkeepers were potentially dangerous.

He said it was "not objectionable" to display the images but, if those in the pictures were labelled as shoplifters but were not, it could be seen as defamatory.

"Things are not always as they seem," he said.

"We know this from the recent Countdown case." Two Rotorua women were arrested after a video, which showed them in a stoush with staff at Rotorua's Countdown supermarket, went viral. The video claimed the women had shoplifted from the store but, during the course of court action, the shoplifting charges against the women were dropped.

Mr Temm said someone would inevitably make a mistake.

"Some poor person will be labelled as a thief and that damages their reputation."

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said retailers and other traders in Rotorua and around the country had been using this approach for some time.

"Our standard advice to anyone wanting to protect themselves against being a victim of crime is that prevention is better than cure," he said.

"Better to take a few simple precautions to prevent an offence occurring, rather than having to deal with all the problems associated with being a victim of crime."

Mr Horne said most thieves were opportunistic, so on most occasions "simple precautions" would deter them.

Security Tips To Stop Shoplifters

Rotorua shop owners are resorting to potentially illegal actions in a bid to prevent their stock being stolen. Here are some tips from Rotorua police on how to prevent shoplifting:

Have good sight-lines so your staff can see people in your store - and people can see you

Supplement "natural surveillance" with additional measures such as CCTV

Ensure your staff acknowledge and engage with everyone who enters your store - this will make potential offenders feel an increased sense of scrutiny

Make sure your store is well lit - but avoid poorly-placed lights that create blind-spots for potential observers

Have a single point of access and exit - access control limits the opportunity for crime

Use structures and office furniture to channel people to reception areas

Eliminate design features that provide access to roofs or upper levels

Display security system signage at access points - Source: Rotorua police

- Rotorua Daily Post

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