Shoplifting is a crime with far-reaching effects.

On Saturday, the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend reported that retail theft was the second-most reported crime in Tauranga in the past few years with more than 3500 reported thefts since July 2014.

A Retail New Zealand report found retail crime was frequently not reported to the police.

I easily believe this - shoplifting can be hard to detect unless the person is caught in the act.


I've worked a few retail jobs in my time. In a clothes shop we were thoroughly trained on how to deter shoplifting - talk to the customer, keep checking back with them while they're in the store, usher them into the changing room, put the clothes back away for them, make sure they're always in clear eyesight, move around the store.

Good service is a good deterrent.

Even then, it was estimated we lost at least 5 per cent of our stock. We rarely caught anyone in the act but often found the evidence afterwards.

When I was working in a homeware store 10 years ago, the objects were often larger and harder to sneak out but were still frequently stolen.

For the thieves, it must seem like such a harmless crime - who's going to notice one missing jumper, one stolen tool set?

Every theft has implications - in each job we were judged by how much stock our stores lost, which would impact our performance ratings and our (minuscule already) pay rises.

It must be hard for small-business owners who not only lose the stock they work so hard to provide, but are faced with the knowledge they've been targeted by someone from their own neighbourhood.

It's a small crime that can have big consequences for the victims.