THE manager of a major retail outlet in the Orange Grove Homemaker Centre says her staff fear for their own safety, are routinely verbally abused and deemed racist for trying to check the bags of customers they suspect are shoplifting.
The woman spoke to Central Western Daily staff on the condition that her name not be published for fear of retribution.
Conditions at the Bathurst Road centre have become so dangerous she says staff now park at the front of the store and exit the building in pairs after dark.
“I think they need to go through the housing commission area [in Glenroi] with a dose of Epsom salts,” the woman said.
“When they come into the shop they don’t care what they do, they kick up a stink if I ask to check their bags or their prams, but it’s a condition of entry.
“I usually cop a mouthful and I’ve had prams rammed into me.
“The bigger the audience the bigger they go.”
The manager said shoplifting was an ongoing issue at the store, despite the owners installing security cameras.
“Some weeks we’re hit hard and some weeks we’re hit less hard,” she said.
“We recently had a woman steal a drill and batteries but she didn’t steal the charger that you need, she mustn’t have known much about tools.”
The manager believes the same group that has been targeting her store is also responsible for recent attacks on Sam’s Warehouse.
“I think they’re all related, they come in as a group and cause a distraction and then take what they want, “she said.
One night the woman received a call from a staff member who was too afraid to leave the premises because there were eight people waiting outside for him.
“I just told him to call the police,” she said.
“Things don’t happen every day but when they do I get a lump in my throat and think, am I going to get flogged today?”
Despite frequent police patrols in the area, the manager said retailers were frightened to take legal action fearing there would be repercussions.
“We’re not just fearful of them, we’re fearful of their whole family,” she said.
“I want justice but I don’t want 30 people following me afterwards ... there’s only so much police can do.”
The manager said she’d like to see unemployed people forced to look for work or have their Centrelink payments reduced over time.
“I just want them to get off their backsides and work,” she said.
“This is not my shop’s fault and it’s not Sam’s Warehouse’s fault, it’s a problem that’s happening in the area. A lot of this is learnt behaviour and we need to break that cycle.
“This is a real problem.”