School’s out - shoplifting in

School’s out - shoplifting in

Canterbury

School holidays are not holiday time for everyone. With many students already finished school for the year, retailers need to practise assertiveness training, says Community Police Officer, Greg THOMAS.

"There’s an awful lot of stock walking out the doors," he says. "Retailers need to be wary and confront the groups of young people who `travel ‘ through shops at this time of year. There are a lot of 12/13 year olds getting active, who are often very manipulative."

Young people are taking trendy clothing, caps and other headwear, jewellery, and CD’s, - basically any high value item which is easily slipped into a pocket. Quite young boys and girls are involved in working as a group to shoplift. Some distract shop assistants while others take goods. Constable THOMAS says that retailers should have a scenario worked out so that when they are confronted with a situation, staff know what to do, especially if they are working alone.

Retailers also need to look at the shop layout and displays so that the desirable items are further back in to the shop and not so easily snatched. Many of the youths carry backpacks and he suggests that they should be asked to leave them at the door, with staff, until they leave the shop.

Senior Constable Jim REID, Youth Aid Officer from Sydenham advises retailers to practise trying to identify people. Descriptions are often very vague, he says, but observation skills can be practised. Businesses are also advised to keep in touch with others around them, to warn each other if groups are working in their area, or to ask for assistance.

"Phone the police as soon as you think you have trouble, start dialling if you recognise regular shop lifters," says Jim REID. "Don’t delay, keep your eyes on them and follow them with the mobile or cell phone. Get someone else to laert the neighbouring shops, don’t let them get away!"

Greg THOMAS says that parents have to take some responsibility.
"Parents have to be prepared to ask difficult questions and follow through, checking if an item has been a gift, swapped or traded with a friend.

"There’s a lot of peer pressure involved and you need to know who your child is getting around with and how much money they should have. It may be `cool’ to be befriended by street kids. But they will tell your child what they should be doing to stay part of the group," he says. "That’s whenthey get into trouble. Also watch for signs of lethargy which may mean they’re trying drugs."

Both officers are emphatic that shoplifting is not an issue that will go away.

"Retailers must take control. Shoplifting will become chronic if your business gets known as an easy target."

Retailers wanting advice on legal issues and staff training should contact their local community Police station.

Maggie LEASK, Canterbury District, 03 363 7815, 021 663 701