The City of Sydney has joined forces with NSW Police to help city businesses combat theft, with retail crime expected to spike during the Christmas shopping season.
A series of video podcasts from the City’s Safe City Unit features NSW Police crime experts providing local retailers with free advice on how to avoid falling victim to new ‘tap and go’ technology, credit card scams and shoplifting.
The video podcasts were created with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Crime Prevention Division of the NSW Department of Justice and have been welcomed by the Australian Retailers Association.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the video podcasts were part of the City’s commitment to supporting the retail sector and would assist business owners in preventing theft.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy. The City is always looking for ways to support and encourage small businesses by creating the best environment for them to operate in and grow,” the Lord Mayor said.
“These podcasts will give our business owners advice on how to safeguard themselves against criminal behaviour, with important information around handling cash, preventing shoplifting and beating credit card and pay wave fraud.
“The arrival of the new pay wave technology has delivered a convenient payment process for businesses and consumers. But it has also made it easier to commit crime, and it has taken its toll on small businesses in particular,” the Lord Mayor said.
According to the latest Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report, fraud in the City of Sydney area rose an alarming 31 per cent in the period to September 2013 last year and has stayed at this higher level. The sharp increase has been directly attributed to new pay wave technology.
NSW Police crime figures for the Sydney region show a 38 per cent leap in the number of people charged with retail fraud and theft in December compared with the previous month.
NSW Police Force Sydney City Local Area Commander, Superintendent Allan Sicard, said an influx of customers meant businesses were more vulnerable to scams.
“An increase in pedestrian traffic and busy customer service staff is often seen as an opportunity for fraudsters to target retailers,” Supt Sicard said.
“Police work closely with retailers to proactively target shoplifters and other in-store fraud issues, which works to not only catch thieves, but to also deter anyone thinking they might get away with it.
“Despite our police operations, improved surveillance technology in many stores and expert store security and loss prevention officers, retail theft and fraud is still costing the industry billions of dollars every year, which ultimately costs the honest consumer.
“We are determined to work with the City of Sydney and retailers to make it clear unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated. We will also be sharing the podcasts with all our Crime Prevention Teams through Facebook for the benefit of police and retailers across the state,” the Local Area Commander said.
The retail crime-fighting initiative has been welcomed by the Australian Retailers Association. Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, said retail fraud was costing Sydney business Sydney businesses over $2.3 billion a year.
“Retailers need to take a serious look at their loss prevention strategies. Good, vigilant customer service and adequately staffing during busy periods goes a long way to protecting retailers merchandise. Conducting bag checks is also crucial around Christmas time, with bag check policies visible to all shoppers,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“It’s also a good idea to introduce security cameras and place hidden security tags or dye bombs on products regardless of price. Thieves are not always going for the expensive items – they will often opt for what is easiest to take, and the cost of these thefts quickly adds up.”
NSW Attorney General and Justice Minister, Brad Hazzard, said many of the tips featured in the new video podcasts to reduce theft cost little to implement, but could save individual retailers thousands of dollars.
“Retailers are at the front line when it comes to preventing shoplifting and fraud and the NSW Government is investing in resources such as these to help them combat crime and protect businesses’ bottom lines.”
Two members of the NSW Police force, Crime Prevention Officer, Janelle Laing, and the Manager Intelligence, Fraud and Cyber Crime, Melanie Olson, detail current fraudulent practices, as well as steps businesses can take to help prevent being the victim of store crimes.
The video podcasts are an engaging, flexible and cost-effective way to convey the valuable information and will be housed on the City of Sydney and police websites and will be promoted through the City’s social media channels.
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