Almost 300 shoplifters reported: Orange turning into a den of thieves

IN OUR SIGHTS: SportsPower worker Adam Hurford uses “cameras everywhere” to deter people from shoplifting from the store. 
IN OUR SIGHTS: SportsPower worker Adam Hurford uses “cameras everywhere” to deter people from shoplifting from the store. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

SHOPLIFTING in Orange is rampant according to business owners but police say the high rate of incidents is not due to an increase in crime rather an increase in reports. 

Orange is ranked as the fourth worst local government area (LGA) in the state for shoplifting, which is up from a ranking of sixth in the state in a previous report, according to Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data. 

SportsPower owner Rhonda Russell said she caught people shoplifting from the store on a weekly basis and the most recent incident was on Monday. 

She said she could pick a shoplifter “a mile off” because of their body language and had installed CCTV throughout the shop. 

Police do a “great job” when it comes to arresting and charging culprits but the problem will continue because of the demographic of residents in Orange, she says.

“[The ranking] doesn’t surprise me because we’ve got a lot of people out of work here,” she said. 

She did not think the thefts occurred because people were in a desperate situation and had no options.

“It’s a complete lack of respect, it’s an attitude thing,” she said. 

Ashcroft’s Supa IGA owner Ian Ashcroft, who has two stores in Orange and one in Moss Vale, said the problem was far worse here than in the Southern Highlands. 

He estimated the problem cost him about $100,000 per year in lost revenue. 

“You can’t fix the problem,” he said.

“It’s the people who aren’t coping.”

Statistics showed Orange had 288 incidents of theft from a retail store in 2013 which is up from 256 reported thefts in the 12 months to September 2013 when Orange was ranked at number six. 

Comparatively Dubbo is ranked second with Bathurst coming in at number 20. Bourke is the worst LGA in the state for shoplifting.

The ranking is calculated on a per capita basis. 

Canobolas Local Area Command acting crime manager Yonneka Hill said the Orange Target Action group, which was created to apprehend shoplifters, had experienced a high success rate that drove the figures up.

The group consists of plain-clothes police officers who patrol shops and catch thieves in the act and operates “on a regular basis”.

“We’re happy with those statistics because of the pro-active police work and the officers work really well with loss prevention officers,” acting Inspector Hill said. 

Not a great deal of police resources were taken up with shoplifting prevention operations because the investigations process was relatively quick, she said.