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Retail crime targets the meaty bits

Retail thieves are increasingly targeting high-end products, and in some cases, it is thought that meat stolen in bulk is being exported and resold offshore. Wairarapa police are aware of the emerging trend.

A new survey published by Foodstuffs claims there have been a 38 per cent increase in retail crime in its North Island stores.

Media reported Foodstuffs believed professional thieves were increasingly stealing brand-specific goods for the purpose of resale.

New World Masterton owner Clive Webber confirmed that the “theft of luxury items” is currently prevalent in his store, and he is aware other retailers are having the same issue.

“It’s not ‘I’m starving, let’s get a packet of mince or a rump steak,’” Webber said.

“It’s the eye fillets. It’s also the high-end health and beauty or personal care, be it the facial creams or make-up.”

Recently security at Webber’s store caught a thief with four candles hidden in a bag, priced at $22 each.

Webber said he had to ask himself why someone was stealing nearly $100 worth of candles.

“Does he want his house to smell nice? No, it’s for resale.”

Increased security measures at the supermarket over the past “You have no idea how much money we’ve spent on stuff like cameras, security guards – it’s just ongoing.”

Webber said data monitoring over the past two years through retail crime intelligence platform Auror showed that it was happening all too often.

“It’s not great, and it’s everywhere. I don’t think New Zealand really wants to live in this type of future, this is not the New Zealand we want.”

A spokesperson for police said for the Wellington police district, 177 retail charges had been made since 2021, which was when police set up the National Retail Investigation Support Unit to target retail offenders.

Nationally, 1,266 charges had been laid against 195 offenders.

Wairarapa Police Area Prevention Manager Acting Senior Sergeant Gill Flower said meat was a big target for crime sprees in Wairarapa, and although she did not believe it was stolen for export, resale was a big motivator.

“It is very expensive and so a good commodity to steal and then sell on at a reduced price or exchange for drugs.”

Flower said it was common for repeat offenders to make a living or supplement an income by shoplifting.

“Every area has them,” said Flower.

“We try and keep a good eye on these and hold them to account as often as we can.”

Flower said the best way to prevent theft was CCTV.

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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