Matt Cowley says retail crime is serious, scary stuff. Photo / Andrew Warner
I feel for retailers across the Bay of Plenty at the moment. On top of all the pandemic, staffing and supply chain disruptions, there is a steady wave of anti-social behaviour and crime plaguing
Many retailers I’ve spoken to are dreading being woken up in the middle of the night by their security company calling to say their store has been broken into.
This is bigger than what we see in the news. There are more overnight break-ins than we realise, and it’s not just young people in cars. Some break-ins have involved adults smashing through entries with a hammer or axe.
The costs to the victims are steep: stolen inventory, damage to property, disruptions to operations, and ongoing impacts on employee and business owner well-being. This is serious, scary stuff – without an obvious solution.
Bollards don’t stop someone with an axe or hammer. Should retailers be considering installing external metal roller doors for overnight?
Tauranga would look and feel very different with all our shopfronts barricaded at night.
But it’s not just the after-hours break-ins; what is surprising to hear is the amount of daytime anti-social behaviour and shoplifting happening.
Retailers tell me it is not uncommon for thieves to simply walk out with a handful of clothes with blatant disregard for the shop assistants calling them back.
Retail employees are generally not equipped to be confronting intimidating individuals who are determined to do whatever they want.
Insurance brokers have told me they believe there are more theft and damage events occurring than what is being reported to them. This could be due to insurance claim excess, retailers not being bothered to make smaller claims, or being worried about smaller claims impacting premiums.
Retailers should be asking their insurers to check their policies are updated and have suitable cover. Your insurer may also share tips on other ways to protect yourself and provide some reassurance for what to do if you suffer a break-in or theft.
It’s vital that you report crime events to the police. If something is happening, or you believe something is imminent, call 111. If an event has happened, no matter how big or small, register it by calling 105 or visit the 105 website.
Police will notice the patterns, allocate more police presence at key times, and gain evidence against offenders who strike retailers across the city.
This is not just a spike. It’s important that we diligently report on crime so that we can collectively expose the full extent of this problem, and ensure politicians understand what retailers are facing.
On top of the pandemic disruptions, rising costs of doing business and the number of break-ins are the scammers taking advantage of busy owners and managers.
There have always been scammers out there, but it seems like business is going well for them recently, with more cases of people falsifying who they are working for and what they are taking.
Matt Cowley is the chief executive of the Tauranga Business Chamber.