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Supermarket crime remains an issue

Woolworths has said it will be upping security and staff safety measures at stores around the country but could not confirm whether this will include Masterton’s Countdown supermarket.

The upped security measures include the installation of fog cannons, increased surveillance, and new radios for staff, but a Countdown spokesperson said they could not share the details of where security measures are being installed but did note that “in terms of customer aggression, the rise in abuse and aggression is something we’re seeing across the whole country”.

In August, Foodstuffs reported a 59 per cent increase in retail crime incidents year on year nationally, with assault and robberies more than doubling.

Meanwhile, Foodstuffs spokesperson Emma Wooster said that while there is no regional-level data available, it is a sad reality that retail crime is on the rise across New Zealand, particularly crime involving violence and aggression.

“Alarmingly, in just three months we saw 54 separate attacks, mostly on our frontline team members,” she said.

“Everyone should be able to come to work and feel safe but, unfortunately, we’re finding the same people keep offending and targeting our stores.”

Wooster said Foodstuffs is investigating more ways to assist with addressing issues of crime, including working with police and industry stakeholders.

When asked about local incidents in supermarkets, Wairarapa police area commander Scott Miller said shoplifting and other complaints have certainly not dropped off.

“Police in general haven’t seen a significant rise in violence and threats within Wairarapa, but we do have organised shoplifters who steal bulk products to sell, some of whom come in from outside Wairarapa,” he said.

“Some people are quite brazen in what they do. There’s a shift in the attitudes of people who commit theft, they’re not scared to be confrontational or abusive.”

Miller said measures put in place last year to identify youth stealing from supermarkets locally had been effective.

“At the end of last year, we had lots of trouble with youth in supermarkets being disruptive and stealing very small value items like chips and drinks,” Miller said.

“So we worked with supermarkets and identified who the youth were. That and putting those identified through youth aid programmes helped reduce numbers.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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