Working together to reduce crime in retail

***PLEASE NOTE: Media inquiries and requests for interviews can be directed to Media Officer, Crime Stoppers NSW, Cecelia Haddad on phone: 0487 333 000 or email: [email protected] ***

“Retail crime affects everyone”.

Retail crime continues to rise.  Theft in retail has increased substantially in the past year, and this is coupled with aggression and violence in retail environments which has amplified in recent times. Retail workers are being abused, threatened, and attacked which puts nearby shoppers at risk.

Retail Crime is punishable.  Verbal abuse is a crime. Physical abuse is a crime. Shoplifting is a crime.

Crime Stoppers (NSW) is working with NSW Police and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) to combat retail crime and create a safer shopping environment for both people working in retail and the wider community.

“We are coming up to the busiest time of the year for retail. Everyone has the right to feel safe whether you are a customer or a worker.  We are hoping this campaign will have a positive impact during this critical Christmas trading period”, said CEO, NSW Crime Stoppers, Mr Peter Price AM.

“This is a NSW pilot programme with the ARA and if the results are encouraging, we will look to extend this nationally.”

“Shoplifting for many of our young people is an entry level crime.  As of December 2022, theft accounted for the most common offence by young people and almost double break and enter crimes*.  Young people aged 14-17 years had to the highest rate of prosecutions for retail theft**.  If we can deter this from happening, our youth may find themselves on a better life path,” said Mr Price.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said he wants everyone to have the best Christmas shopping experience this year and that can only happen if everyone is safe and respectful towards others.

“All retail workers have a right to feel safe at work.  It’s not the norm to be yelled at – or spat at – for doing your job. It’s certainly not the norm to be punched or groped or assaulted or intimidated with a weapon while at work,” Mr Zahra said.

This issue is not confined to major retail chains alone, as even small family businesses are feeling the brunt of shoplifting. These small businesses rely on every sale to keep their lights on and to continue employing staff, especially in regional areas.”

The campaign messaging is directed to everyone affected by retail crimes – shoppers, victims, offenders, and the wider community with awareness around prevention and reporting.  We know there are good citizens who want to help, but we don’t want them putting themselves in harm’s way.

In a recent survey* conducted by the Australian Retailers Association, more than 92% of members have experienced or have had a team member experience verbal or physical assault whilst at work, over 60% of which are from small to medium businesses. Much of this aggression is experienced when a worker approaches someone caught doing something wrong, like shoplifting.

Here are some tips for everyone to have a safer experience:

  • If you are a bystander and see someone being threatened or abused call Triple Zero immediately. Find a security guard and advise them of the danger.
  • Do not step in and try to assist, you may be putting yourself at risk. Your best tool for assistance, is your phone.
  • People who shoplift can appear as nervous or jumpy. They may be looking around for surveillance cameras and sometimes work in group to try to distract staff.  If you suspect someone is shoplifting, find a security guard or staff member and alert them. Take note of what they look like, are wearing, time, date, and location.  This can help with reporting to catch the offender.

Mr. Price added, “our message to offenders is, if you steal, you will be caught.  If you abuse someone you will be reported.  Any retail crime will result in arrest and likely prosecution”.

The campaign will be rolled out in media, social media and through retail point of sale.

“Nothing will ever outweigh the value of the health and wellbeing of workers and shoppers.  With a combined effort from retailers, retail workers, shoppers and the community working together, we can all enjoy a safer and happier shopping experience these holidays”, added Mr Price.

How to Report Crime

  • You can help by reporting anything suspicious, strange, or concerning. To Crime Stoppers.
  • Any piece of information, anything you have seen or heard, may be crucial in preventing or solving a crime.
  • Search: Crime Stoppers (click or call 1800 333 000)
  • For a crime in progress call Triple Zero (000).

Other Statistics***

  • Retail theft has been steadily increasing year up 47.5% year on year to June 2023.
  • In the last two years to June 2023, recorded incidents of retail theft recovered faster than any other property crime, increasing 48% from 2021/22 to 2022/23.
  • The most frequently reported stolen items being alcohol (37% of incidents) followed by clothing (22% of incidents)
  • $440 is the average value of items stolen.


*Australian Retailers Association Member Survey, August 2023

**Young People Offences BOSCAR –

*** Retail Theft BOSCAR –