Dealing with violent crime

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There’s a lot of retail crime about.  It almost seems that there’s a new media story about some violent incident every few days, and we have become so used to non-violent crime that it almost always goes unreported in the media.

We live in an increasingly violent world, and this is flowing through into the way our criminals behave.  Emboldened by social media, and by the dollars to be earned by selling stolen goods, we are seeing a retail crime wave like no other.

While high-value goods like cigarettes are often the targets, no retailer is immune. We have heard reports of intimidating behaviour in grocery and department stores, and ram raids in locations as diverse as petrol stations, wine shops and sports stores.

In the face of an unprecedented crime wave, should retailers be arming themselves, as some have suggested?  We don’t think so.  Taking on violent offenders with weapons would escalate situations, and put you, your employees and your customers at serious risk.   Leaving aside the risk of personal injury, you could find yourself breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and being up for some quite hefty fines.

The Government has recognised that violent crime is a real issue – and has put aside $1.8 million to help small vulnerable retailers who are most at risk of aggravated robbery install anti-crime measures.  As part of this, Police are visiting these businesses to help assess their stores.  All this is a positive step, but will likely only benefit a relatively small number of dairies and convenience stores.  Other stores need to think about crime as part of their business-as-usual operational planning.

So what should retailers do? Prevention is the best part of any cure, so we strongly recommend that you make sure your store is well laid-out, well-lit, and that you have good visibility throughout the store, but also that people can see in from the street.  It’s a good idea to think about alarm systems, cameras and to have signs up to deter the bad guys.  If you are at risk of violent crime, make sure you have a safe room or an exit for employees – and that everyone is trained in what to do in the event of a robbery.

KEY TIPS

Most robberies are over really quickly – and the most important thing is to make sure that offenders leave without harming anyone. In the event of a robbery, we suggest that you should not resist, and once the offender has left, call the Police immediately. Ask customers and employees to remain at the site until the Police arrive.

CCTV footage can be useful for identifying criminals – but we strongly recommend against providing images to the media. You are under no obligation to talk to the press – and having camera footage of the crime on the news can simply encourage copycat crimes.

For more information, please call the Retail NZ Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia).

By Greg Harford, General Manager, Public Affairs.


Retail Crime Survey 

We know crime is a huge issue for retailers right now, and we want to understand how it is affecting you.

Please take a few moments to share your experiences so that we can lobby for retail crime to be taken seriously by the Government and the Police.

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