Brazen shoplifters target low-cost retailers
ABUSE, personal injury and exposure to disease have become part and parcel for staff at a Cairns retail chain for whom juvenile crime has become a daily grind.
The Silly Solly's stores in the Cairns CBD, Earlville and Bungalow have become low-hanging fruit for roaming street criminals and juveniles looking to fill their pockets.
Solly's Steve Watchman said the low-cost items carried by the stores made gaining police attention difficult.
Lake Street store co-owner Yuna Hirai alleged she was told by police "don't bother" reporting a theft for cheap items such as lighters.
The problem is that the average cost for items at the discount chain is $5.
"It is constant," Mr Watchman said.
"Theft is a massive problem that will get worse before it gets better."
He said brazen shoplifters had become more aggressive and violent since he started business in Cairns in 2006.
"They get abusive because we are watching them," Mr Watchman said.
He said at least two Solly's staff had been injured or exposed to disgusting acts by customers - one was spat on and another allegedly suffered a broken jaw at the hands of a 15- year-old child.
The theft crisis had seen many victims install security cameras and lights after they had suffered a burglary.
"By the time that happens it's too late," security installer and electrician Trent White said. "The damage is done."
Mr White said preventive measures such as sensor lights, alarms and cameras were effective only if residents acted with common sense.
"A camera isn't going to return the wallet full of money that was left on the kitchen bench," he said. "We tell people to be prepared."