Thursday, 30 March 2023 - 1:32pm |
National News

Holding the most prolific offenders to account for retail crime

3 min read

Less than one year since its inception, the work of the Police National Retail Investigation Support Unit (NRISU) with districts has resulted in 1000 retail crime charges against 178 offenders.

“This is a significant milestone for the unit, which has been fully operational since May 2022,” says Matt Tierney, Manager of the National Retail Investigation Support Unit.

“Included in this number are the two most prolific retail offenders in the country who were caught last month and racked up 82 charges between them for the more than $300,000 in theft.”

New Zealand Police established the NRISU to address patterns of high priority repeat retail offending across the country. The unit identifies and facilitates the apprehension of the most prolific and harmful retail crime offenders nationwide.

“We are a small unit with three investigators and one intelligence support officer who focus on the worst recidivist offenders. We then work with districts to hold them to account.

“We have partnered with the retail sector and crime prevention organisations to draw on data, identify patterns, and work with our local staff to address repeat offending. And we’ve had results.

“Retail crime costs the sector $1 billion a year  and this has a huge impact on our retail communities and the staff confronted with crime when they are working. It’s a great feeling to know we’ve laid these charges and stopped these people from causing harm in our communities,” says Matt.

Dovetailing with the work of the unit, Auckland and Waikato have also had operations underway with a focus on youth offending and retail crime. 

Operation Rhino in Auckland and Operation Pryor in Waikato have resulted in significant arrests and seen a corresponding decrease in unlawful taking of motor vehicles.

As of 9 March 2023, there had been 607 prosecutions and 257 youth referrals since January 2022 in relation to these operations.

Operation Trump Card in Wellington also had a part focus on retail crime.

As well as these operations, right across the country Police staff are working every day on both preventing and charging retail offending.

“Working with our communities on prevention is also a key piece of this puzzle,” says Chris de Wattignar Assistant Commissioner iwi and communities.

Police’s Retail Crime Prevention Programme delivers protective equipment, and additional prevention advice for retailers, to reduce the risk of harm.

“We see the distress that retail crime and ram raid style burglaries and robberies cause retailers and communities. As well as responding to these incidents with significant investigative action, we work closely with retailers on prevention.

As at 29 March, 2352 security interventions have been approved for eligible stores previously ram raided, or that have had an aggravated robbery, and allocated to contractors.  Of these 2,352 interventions, 810 have been completed and invoiced by contractors.

This includes 156 fog cannons, 127 security sirens, 133 alarms, 222 CCTV systems or system upgrades, 65 bollards or similar security measures, 65 roller doors, and 45 other interventions that include improved lighting/strengthened windows.

“This is a complex matter and Police cannot solve it alone. We need a coordinated partnership approach with agencies, communities, iwi, and social service providers working together to prevent this offending,” says Chris.

Notes to media

The NRISU investigators prepare the retail crime related offending for identified offenders to a prosecution ready standard, then forward the information to the relevant district for the offender to be apprehended.