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New campaign puts booze bandits in the shoplifting spotlight

Posted on 13/04/2023

Hot on the heels of brazen thefts from liquor stores and shoplifting incidents where staff and patrons have been assaulted or threatened, Crime Stoppers South Australia has joined forces with SA Police to help catch those responsible.

The latest crime-solving initiative builds on the success of a shoplifting campaign launched late last year, which saw the community asked to name and shame 62 unknown shoplifting suspects caught on CCTV.

Crime Stoppers South Australia CEO, Nigel Smart, said it was important to expand the focus to include liquor outlets and violent incidents of retail theft because there is a real risk that a worker or customer could be seriously injured or killed.

“Liquor outlets and hotels are attractive targets for shoplifters because the criminals know they can steal alcohol – often worth hundreds of dollars – which can be easily sold for quick profit. We have seen examples where thieves are so blatant that they load up trolleys in full view of staff and customers in broad daylight and smash their way out without any regard for the safety or welfare of others,” Mr Smart said.

“That reckless behaviour is simply unacceptable, and we want people’s help to identify these perpetrators so they can be put on the police radar. Our previous shoplifting campaign showed that the community has a low tolerance of these professional thieves who think they are above the law, and we encourage people to keep anonymously sharing information with Crime Stoppers,” he said.

“We are expanding our shoplifting campaign focus to thieves who specifically target a liquor outlet or hotel as well as incidents where an aggressive confrontation with a retail worker has occurred. We want people to look at the images of these suspects on our website and anonymously tell us who they are.”

Minister for Police Joe Szakacs said employees of liquor outlets deserve to feel safe whenever they go to work.

“Shoplifting is not OK, and anyone considering it should be left with no doubt that they will be caught,” he said.

“Workers at bottle shops deserve to go to work and feel safe at their place of employment. There is no excuse for blatant theft of alcohol or any reason why bottle shop employees should go to work worrying for their safety.”

“Shoplifters are often taking advantage of hard-working local business owners and can expect that their selfish actions will be reported to Crime Stoppers and SAPOL.”

Inspector Julian Coram, SAPOL’s Operation Support Coordinator (Metro Ops Service) said: “There are occasions when a retail worker suddenly, and perhaps inadvertently, finds themselves confronted with a shoplifter. These situations can quickly escalate to violent and anti-social behaviour that puts the worker, their colleagues and customers at increased risk of harm.”

“Anti-social behaviour, abuse and violence against retail, fast-food, petrol station, liquor outlet and retail workers – whether theft is involved or not – is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. We are working with Crime Stoppers and the community to make sure that those who think they can get away with theft and acts of violence to retail workers are caught by police and held to account,” he said.

“We encourage retailers who have been a victim of a shoplifting incident to report theft incidents to police rather than absorb it as a cost of doing business, because it will help us build a more comprehensive and clearer  picture of what items are being targeted and where thieves are most active.”

In 2022, the South Australian Government introduced a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for people convicted of basic assault against a retail worker on the job and seven years when the assault causes harm.

To see the list of target suspects and to learn more about the campaign, visit here.

If you have any information about unsolved crime or suspicious activity, then call anonymously submit a tip from our homepage or freecall 1800 333 000.


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