Shoplifters will be prosecuted
SHOPLIFTING in Toowoomba is spiralling out of control, according to one of the city’s leading retailers.
Bevan Betros from Betros Bros said his staff were catching more and more shoppers every day who had a blatant disregard for the law.
He called on the State Government to enforce harsher penalties to deter repeat offenders.
“It’s getting out of control,” Mr Betros said.
“These people have no respect for us, for our property or for the law or the legal system.”
Thanks to the 32 closed circuit television cameras in his store, Mr Betros said he was able to regularly provide police with footage and pictures of shoplifters.
But he said with an average of about six offences a day it was becoming a huge burden on staff.
He recently caught a man shoving two rib fillet steaks, worth more than $20, down the front of his pants.
Mr Betros said police were able to locate the man and he had since been charged, but this was not always the case.
“It has been suggested that it’s not worthwhile to pursue all these offences, but if we don’t they will just keep doing it because they think they can get away with it,” he said.
Hannas sales manager Paul Hanna said shoplifting had always been a problem in Toowoomba.
Mr Hanna said his store used both video surveillance and electronic clothing tags to deter shoplifters.
“They come at a big cost, but unfortunately it’s just something you have to have,” he said.
The Chronicle highlighted an escalating shoplifting trend in April last year, but Mr Betros said the problem had since become worse.
Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Queensland general manager Derek Tuffield said the increase in offences may be linked to an increase in the number of Toowoomba families who are “doing it tough”.
Mr Tuffield said his organisation had been helping up to 26 families a day in the Toowoomba region.
“Since the end of the government’s stimulus packages we’ve noticed a definite increase in demand for help locally,” he said.
“That doesn’t condone shoplifting in any way, but we certainly acknowledge there are a lot of people doing it tough at the moment.”