Chocolate bars, chewing gum and rubbish bags are becoming some of the most lucrative goods targeted by organised crime, according a crime fighting software service.
Shoplifting costs the economy about $1.2 billion a year, and organised and gang-related crime was becoming a growing burden on retailers.
Auror chief executive Phil Thomson said: “There’s quite a lot of theft happening in stores but up until now there hasn’t been a lot of good reporting of information around that because a lot of these crimes are not hugely valuable”.
Auror has developed software that makes it easier for big retailers to report small thefts to police.
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Shoplifting often went unreported because it was not worth the time spent on paperwork.
The system createda database of information of all retail crime, from a teenager steeling a sandwich, to a group of thieves rampaging a store.
The traditional process to report a crime could take about 90 minutes but Auror’s software reduced that to under seven minutes.
Auror found that during the past five years most retail crime was committed by a small group of people.
“A lot of the crime isn’t the typical shoplifter people might suppose,” Thomson said.
“It’s not people who want a chocolate bar, or in the mood for a pie. It’s actually quite organised, and people who are doing these are working together.”
Less than 1 per cent in the database were responsible for about 20 per cent of the theft by value, Thomson said.
Organised crime groups were “stealing to order” and specialised in certain goods like confectionary, which they then on-sold, he said.
“It’s not high risk, high reward crime. It’s low risk, low reward goods but in significant volumes.
“It’s not things people want for themselves, it’s thing that can be readily converted to cash or on-sold.”
Auror found the most common time for shoplifting was between 9am and 5pm on weekdays.
“For some of these individuals it’s very much a full time profession,” Thomson said.
Retail New Zealand general manager Greg Harford said Auror was, “instrumental in identifying and mitigating patterns of criminal behaviour”.
“We’re seeing both organised shoplifting – like gangs stealing to order from stores, and sometimes reselling via social media and auction sites – and also increasingly organised fraud activities, where gangs might use stolen credit card details to effect sometimes quite sophisticated fraud,” Harford said.
Department store, Farmers is joining other big retailers including The Warehouse, Rebel Sport, and Briscoes on the database.
Farmers’ loss prevention manager Michael Hulme said: “Ultimately we want to be doing our part working with other businesses and New Zealand Police to reduce the offending happening in the wider community.”