Shoplifting figures in Orange have remained static, with around 300 "accepted or verified" incidents per 100,000 people annually, according to figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research.
However what the figures don't show are the number of unreported shoplifting incidents, where shop owners figure it's not worth the effort to report to police.
Anecdotally, staff report that COVID-19 has not quelled some people's thirst for nicking stuff.
"Nothing's changed," said Heidi Reed from Spotlight. "That is bad news. It's a big issue."
At one store, a worker who didn't want to be named said: "There's a lot of it about. I don't know if it's an increase or not but I'd guess it is. Whatever they can get their hands on really. They're just mongrels."
Jules Pearce at Flirt Adult Store is well known for implementing a no-nonsense, no-second-chances, zero-tolerance policy regarding theft.
If we catch someone stealing we make them Facebook-famous, and regardless of the item stolen.Jules Pearce at Flirt Adult Store
"Touch wood we have a pretty good track record, and we hope our reputation precedes us," she said.
"We don't tolerate any shoplifting, whether it's worth $5 or $500. If we catch someone stealing we make them Facebook-famous, and regardless of the item stolen we go to the police and follow through with a prosecution, and they are then banned.
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"We've had a lot of prolific, known shoplifters around town and we've made them Facebook-famous and put it out there for everyone to see. I've had Kmart and other big shops ring me and say thanks, because they know the same people, but they're limited in what they can do."
Mrs Pearce said that some thieves could be "brazen" and tended to work in teams of two - one to distract and the other to steal.
"Oddly enough, we've had a lot of 'tester' items stolen - the ones we put out so people can test them. We sanitise after every customer, but the thought is still gross. And no-one is stealing from us to feed their children and that's what makes us even crankier."
A local Facebook page is used to post images and information about people who are alleged to have stolen, however the administrator said he was no longer involved in the page.
Detective chief inspector Bruce Grassick said that crime overall had gone down in Orange during COVID-19, and that although shoplifting was an under-reported crime, the figures were "relatively stable".
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