Retail New Zealand is calling on the Government to set up a police taskforce to combat retail crime and introduce spot-fines for petty offences.
Retail crime costs the country about $1 billion a year in losses.
“Retail crime is a serious problem for retailers, consumers and the economy as a whole,” said Retail NZ’s general manager for public affairs Greg Harford.
“Retailers are already working to prevent and deter crime, but retail crime is growing, becoming more menacing and more violent. Criminal gangs are increasingly active in retail crime, and urgent steps are needed.”
The organisation called for a “three-point action plan”, which included a national Retail Crime Taskforce within the police, a social-change programme, and an infringement notice penalty regime for petty offences.
Harford said the infringements for less serious crime wouldn’t tie up resources.
“Theft as part of an organised crime group needs to be treated extremely seriously and robust prison terms should apply to those committing crimes for a gang or syndicate.
At the same time, we recognise that many people drift into organised crime gangs because they have been able to get away with petty theft without any consequences.
“Prosecutions through the courts are cumbersome, and we, therefore, propose the introduction of an infringement-style offence for petty theft. This will ensure that there are real consequences for people starting their life of crime, and act as a deterrent to repeat offending.
Retail NZ is proposing a $500 fine where the value of the stolen property is less than $250; $750 when it is between $250 and $500; and $1250 when it is between $500 and $1000.
Harford said the penalties would be imposed in much the same way that speeding tickets are issued.