Supermarket business Foodstuffs says its North Island stores experienced more than 3200 incidents of retail crime in just three months earlier this year.
That’s an almost 40 per cent increase from the same quarter last year and equals an average of 37 retail crime incidents every day.
As the Times has reported, there have been numerous incidents of people stealing food from east Auckland supermarkets.
A supermarket in Highland Park was also ram-raided in May.
Foodstuffs operates New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square stores.
Its North Island chief executive Chris Quin says they’ve experienced a 36 per cent increase in incidents involving burglary, assault, robbery and other aggressive, violent and threatening behaviour.
Shoplifting incidents have increased 57 per cent.
Repeat offenders are responsible for 36 per cent of all reported retail crime incidents, while the number of such offenders has grown 34 per cent from last year.
The most frequently targeted items are premium cuts of meat and high-value health and beauty products.
“Our grocers have never seen retail crime at these levels,” Quin says.
“It’s an extremely concerning trend and it’s unacceptable.
“Retail crime is coming through the front doors of grocery stores and impacting our teams every day.”
The company’s grocers say shoplifters are becoming increasingly aggressive and violent.
“It’s distressing when we have people threatening our team members with weapons and throwing punches,” Quin says.
“Every New Zealander has the right to work in a safe and secure environment and not be threatened, assaulted, spat on, yelled at, or racially abused as they go about their working day.”
He says Foodstuffs has identified incidents of co-ordinated crime involving individuals or groups stealing to order and to on-sell.
In one incident, a repeat offender stole 31 fillet steaks, valued at almost $3,200, over a period of weeks.
Foodstuffs’ security specialists say the behaviour indicates it’s being stolen to order, or to sell.
“There are three key drivers of retail crime which our security specialists believe are driving most of these crimes,” Quin says.
“It’s often people struggling with addiction, and they’re stealing to fund or fuel their addiction, and it’s groups of youths who’re committing destructive acts which they film and post on social media.”
National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell says Kiwis have the right to feel safe in their homes, workplaces, and communities.
“But that is not the reality under this Government, which has taken a soft-on-crime approach and has no plan to get on top of this offending.
“Not only are Kiwis feeling less safe, but this increase in crime is hurting the economy and making life tougher for all New Zealanders trying to navigate Labour’s cost of living crisis.”
ACT Party leader David Seymour says the figures released by Foodstuffs show the Labour Government has “totally lost control of crime”.
“Retailers are being terrorised by thugs who don’t believe this Government is going to do anything to them.
“Violent criminals need to be caught and punished, not tagged and released as Labour would have it.”