Business crime prevention advice: Business support and FAQs

Business crime prevention advice: Business support and FAQs

Business support is a concept similar to Neighbourhood Support for residential communities. Business support seeks to reduce commercial crime and the fear of crime from both the customers' and retailers' points of view.

How do you set up a group?

This doesn't take a lot of time or involve a lot of work. All you need to do is:

  • Start small - discuss with a few neighbours or nearby businesses and build up slowly.
  • Call a meeting.
  • Invite your local community constable or local Neighbourhood Support representative along to give you information and answer your questions.
  • Share the work - share your knowledge, skills and time.
  • Keep learning.
  • Celebrate your success.

How does the group operate?

A telephone tree or email facility is an effective means of sharing information with other businesses and with your local community constable.

Should a problem develop, each business person is responsible for calling one or two others on the tree. The coordinator can pass information on to the Police as necessary.


From time to time invite key people to advise or train you and your staff. This helps keep the group alive. Having the occasional public meeting can get more people involved as well.


Police can give you information and training on:

  • reducing the opportunity for crime
  • preparing for and surviving civil disasters
  • dealing with a range of emergencies
  • solving community problems
  • networking

By forming a business support group you can protect your property and gain peace of mind. You and your neighbours can support one another and combine your local knowledge to reduce crime in your area. 

Frequently asked questions

The examples provided are intended as brief guidelines only. Every situation is different, and if in doubt, seek advice from a qualified legal professional.

1. What is "theft"?

The Crimes Act 1961 defines theft as the act of dishonestly and without claim of right:

a. taking any property with intent to deprive the owner permanently of that property or any interest in it; or

b. using or dealing with any property with intent to deprive any owner permanently of that property or any interest in it after obtaining possession/control over the property.

There must be an intention to commit theft.

2. Does someone have to exit the shop with my (the shop owner's) property before theft is committed?

No. In some situations, the person's conduct before leaving the store may be sufficient. For example, purposefully concealing property in a bag or clothing, along with actions showing a clear intention of leaving the shop without paying, may amount to theft even though the person has not yet left the premises.

3. Under what circumstances should I call the Police?

You should always call the police on 111 when:

  • someone threatens you or your staff or refuses to leave
  • someone you have confronted is in possession of stolen property
  • someone has JUST LEFT the premises, either with your property or having tried to steal your property

4. If I suspect someone in my shop has concealed an item under clothing or in pockets or in a bag, can I conduct a search to get my property back?

Not unless the person has consented to the search - for example you could ask them to open a bag or empty their pockets.

5. If someone is openly carrying an item of my property and attempting to leave the shop without paying, what should I do?

You could ask the person to return the item to you. If they refuse and leave the shop anyway or become aggressive or disorderly, call Police immediately. See also FAQ 6.

Section 53 of the Crimes Act 1961 protects from criminal responsibility a person in peaceable possession of any movable thing under a claim of right (and everyone acting on his or her authority) who defends his or her possession by the use of reasonable force if he or she does not strike or do bodily harm to the other person. This defence may allow you to snatch the goods back.

Keep in mind, however, that this defence would not apply if your actions exceed what the provision justifies. Also, in any interactions with possible shoplifters, your personal safety should always take priority over recovery of goods.

6. If someone has stolen my property and leaves the shop, what should I do?

You could follow the person from a safe distance provided it does not expose you to risk. Have a colleague ring the Police or if you have a cell phone call Police with a description of the person, direction of travel and any vehicle details, particularly registration number.

Section 53 of the Crimes Act 1961 may also be relevant - refer FAQ 5 on previous page.

7. Can I do anything about people I might not want to come into my store?

As the occupier, you have the right to control access and deny entry to anyone you don't want, such as persons who have previously shoplifted, presented fraudulent credit or exhibited abusive, disruptive or threatening behaviour. If you think someone already in your store is acting suspiciously, you have the right to approach and question them or ask that person to leave.

For individuals who consistently concern you, a written Trespass Notice can be handed to the person, with a warning not to enter the property for two years. The person's details should be entered on the form and a copy retained in the store. A person breaching the notice can be arrested by police.

A Trespass Notice is available to print out. You can photocopy a notice for giving to any person you want trespassed.

8. Can I use force to defend myself?

Yes, section 48 of the Crimes Act 1961 states that everyone is justified in using force in the defence themselves or others. But remember that any force used must be reasonable under the circumstances. A person using excessive force could face prosecution for assault.

9. I am having trouble with children stealing from my shop. What can I do?

You should always call 111 and ask for the Police immediately and report it. You can trespass these children from your shop. Your local community constable can also advise you on how to deal with this issue.

10. I phoned the Police but they did not come?

Police aim to attend every incident as soon as possible. However, sometimes, for a variety of reasons, they are unable to attend as quickly as members of the public would like.

You should always feel confident to call the Police back and inquire as to why they did not attend or how long they will be. You can also contact your local community constable or police station for further assistance.

11. The Police attended but they have not contacted me again to let me know what has happened. What do I do?

You can call your local police station and ask about your case. Whenever you call Police to your shop remember to take down the name of the police officer and the file number of your case.

12. How do I find out who my local community constable is?

Simply call your local police station and ask. Telephone numbers for the different police stations are in your local telephone book, or you can find them on the police website phonebook -

13. I have two names, one on my passport and the other is what my friends and customers call me. Which name should I give to Police?

Always give Police your name as it appears on your passport. After that you can tell Police that you are known by another name by your friends and customers. Give Police that name also.

14. Where can I get more safety information from?

Contact your local police station or community constable. You can also go to our website at and look at crime prevention information in the Advice section.

15. I don't speak English very well and don't feel confident about contacting police. What can I do?

Police use a language line telephone interpreting service which is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm. When making contact with Police, you can ask to use this free service. Police also have access to qualified interpreters who can talk to you in your own language. The Police website ( provides crime prevention information and safety tips in different languages.