The couple were struggling financially when they took $160 of goods
The couple were struggling financially when they took $160 of goods Warwick Daily News

Elderly couple caught stealing from Reject Shop

A COUPLE in their 70s were struggling so badly financially that they attempted to steal a trolley of items from the Reject shop.

The Mt Morgan couple pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court on October 10 to one count each of stealing and one each of obstructing a police officer.

One of the couple's defence lawyers, Scheryn Aspinall, said at the time of the offence - September 30 - her clients were struggling financially.

Police Prosecutor Sergeant Kathy Stafford said the couple entered the Reject Shop at Stockland Rockhampton at 12.48pm on the day and piled $169.84 of items into a trolley and exited the store without paying.

She said an off-duty police officer witnessed the defendants leave the store with the goods and approached one of the defendants when they were beside their car.

The couple were not compliant with requests made by the police officer.

The court heard the couple had split up as one was feeling ill and the other claimed to have gone back to the shop to talk to the manager about paying for the goods.

However, CCTV footage showed the couple left the Reject Shop together and then entered Harris Scarfe.

Magistrate Cameron Press asked the defence lawyers, who both submitted that fines be the penalty rather than probation due to mobility issues, what capacity the couple had to pay a fine.

The second defence lawyer Bryce Younger said the couple's grandchildren would help them pay the fine.

Mr Press ordered they both be fined $800 each and no convictions recorded.

Sadly, this couple are not the only seniors struggling.

According to figures released by the Salvation Army on October 17, the not-for-profit organisation has had a 71.8 per cent increase in pensioners as clients in the past 12 years.

The Salvation Army data also found casual and part-time workers, carers and pensioners are more likely to seek out services now than 12 years ago.

The percentage of casual and part-time clients has increased by 140 per cent.

Carers as clients have increased by 93.3 per cent.

"More and more Australians are falling into the vicious cycle of debt, feeling forced to max out credit cards, take out very expensive loans or take on consumer leases when they are in financially desperate situations. However, these Band-aid solutions typically only exasperate the problem,” Salvation Army's Moneycare service head Tony Devlin said.

New data shows that those on the brink of financial crisis have accrued $2.55 of debt for every dollar earned. That's a debt-to-income ratio of 255 per cent. Comparatively, the average Australian household has a debt-to- income ratio of 190 per cent.

Housing affordability and cost of living pressures are also having an adverse effect on our clients. Typically, clients spend 37 per cent of their income on rent, which is a 7 per cent increase over the last 10 years. Additionally, the percentage of income people spend on electricity has increased by 24.9 per cent in the same period.

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