Frustrated retailers say they feel powerless to stop an organised and often violent criminal element that is ripping them off to the tune of $500 a day.
Frustrated retailers say they feel powerless to stop an organised and often violent criminal element that is ripping them off to the tune of $500 a day.

Shocking way businesses lose $500 a day

A $618 MILLION heist is happening under the nose of powerless retailers with shameless young thieves becoming more violent and organised.

Everything from high-end handbags to deodorant cans, or chocolate bars to jewellery is going missing, in a scourge the National Retail Association (NRA) says is costing CBD businesses at least $618 million each year.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the staggering loss to businesses was likely higher, due to many thefts going unreported, due to time constraints and no outcome when they did report.

She said retailers were experiencing a growing number of "snatch and grab" thefts, with any item not tied down or locked at risk of being stolen.

"We are talking about more organised forms and more violent crime affecting our retailers," she said.

"It's becoming an increasing problem … it's another cost they can't afford."

Retailers are bracing for an expected spike in stealing when the school holidays start from Saturday.

 

Manager of Discount Souvenirs James Nasrawi. The store loses $300-$500 worth of goods a day due to theft. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Manager of Discount Souvenirs James Nasrawi. The store loses $300-$500 worth of goods a day due to theft. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

 

Family-owned business, Tourist House, operates three souvenir stores in the Queen Street Mall.

Manager James Nasrawi said thieves would take up to $500 worth of stock every day, and he was powerless to stop them.

"They'll just take anything," he said.

"When they come in and they threaten people … I've had a staff member spat on before because they stopped them taking a jacket."

Mr Nasrawi said the store couldn't afford to keep paying for the theft.

"It's something you have to factor in your pricing … we already operate on low margins as it is," he said.

At the top of the mall, James' sister, Kristy Nasrawi, runs the second Tourist House Souvenir store, where gold and opal jewellery, lighters and multi-tools are regularly swiped.

"We have at least an incident a day minimum," she said.

"They don't care, they know they'll get away with it."

 

A screengrab showing a man shoplifting from Tourist House Souvenirs in Queen St, Brisbane. City.
A screengrab showing a man shoplifting from Tourist House Souvenirs in Queen St, Brisbane. City.

 

Ms Nasrawi said the thieves were usually teenagers and knew each other and when to strike.

"They know not to come when our full-time staff are working," she said.

"We used to have a codeword we'd say when someone suspicious was coming in but they clued on to that and now they come into our store and start saying our codeword."

Queensland Police say more high-profile and mobile patrols were occurring in the CBD after the creation of the Brisbane City Crowded Places Team last year.

"The focus of the team is to perform high visibility patrols in crowded spaces such as Brisbane City, with a goal to reduce crime and provide a safer community," a police spokeswoman said.

She said shoplifters came from "all walks of life and from all socio-economic backgrounds".

"They may steal on impulse - young people who steal to impress their friends - or as part of a concerted effort to resale the items for profit," she said.

Ms Lamb said while Brisbane City Council's CCTV network helped identify thieves, better engagement with police and between retailers was vital to solving the problem.



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