Australian Newsagency Blog

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An arrest feels good

Mark Fletcher
December 30th, 2009 · 25 Comments

It is a good feeling when the police arrest someone for stealing from your shop.  While they are likely to get a warning or some other soft sentence, enough of these and they may learn a lesson – or, maybe not.  Either way, it feels good to have the police arrest someone.

Theft makes me angry.  I don’t like the term shoplifting for this reason – it feels soft.  I’d like to see tougher penalties.  I’d also like the victim, us in this instance, have the right to post the photo of the criminal on display in our shop along with their name.  This would play a practical role in deterring this activity.


Category: theft

25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 BAZ // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:11 AM

    Yes Mark, we have caught a number of people on our cameras..especially in the laneway at rear of our shop. I would love to be able to post a pic of the individuals involved, as I am sure someone would know them and perhaps an arrest be made. I know in the USA (D.C. and Maryland) where we lived this is ok to do and the arrest rate is high.


  • 2 John H // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:16 AM

    Might be worth finding out a bit more about that Mark.Surely once someone is convicted (and assuming the magistrate hasn’t ordered that the persons identity remain confidential) ,it is a matter of public record and you could display the details?


  • 3 shaun s // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:56 AM

    An arrest is a complete waste of time nothing can be done with these crims ,what do you think will happen to them a whole lotta sweet nothing . What is the alternative i do not know . I am still receiving a cheque each moth for our delivery car that was stolen a year ago each moth $15.00 comes how pathetic is that it was cheaper to steal a car than catch a taxi and no conviction recorded . So bck to what to do with them when you catch them go back to the old days and give them a swift kick up the back side and send them walking


  • 4 Chris // Dec 30, 2009 at 11:38 AM

    What we need is a benevolent dictator!!
    It would solve alot of problems. Dont you think?

    Cheers and happy new yeat to all.



  • 5 ERIC // Dec 30, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    we have caught a thief well known to the police and his crime records as thick as bible as the police told me, but nothing can be done. the magistrate ordered him to pay me back $700 for the street dir. he stole. your right..


  • 6 Brett // Dec 30, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    We would all be well served looking hard at all the existing laws, I am fighting this one with the Qld Govt as we speak. I have no right to detain, I have no right to search a bag. I do have a right to a citizens arrest but by crickey you had better get it right, better to have your lawyer on your elbow when you do it. The thief has the right to privacy, the right to freedom of movement the right to steal whatever they like and walk out without me being able to do one thing to stop them.

    Please check your local copper if you need to be sure about this and them hit all of your local pollies to correct this problem. We are sending a terrible message to our kids if what we are saying is take what you like, they cannot touch you.


  • 7 ERIC // Dec 30, 2009 at 5:40 PM

    this country is founded by convicts for convicts and it is criminal heaven . no offense. the kids here are getting worst and they can sue their parents. what a country!


  • 8 Paul S // Dec 30, 2009 at 5:55 PM

    In QLD at least there’s a significant difference between whether the culprit is charged with shoplifting or with stealing. The first leaves them potentially with a conviction,no criminal record and no potential for a jail term whereas the latter will result in a criminal record if convicted and potentially (though highly unlikely for small value items) a jail term. Shop lifting covers items only up to $150 however the Police can charge someone with the greater offence should they choose to so it may be worth pressing the issue for this should they actually catch someone.


  • 9 Jarryd Moore // Dec 30, 2009 at 7:05 PM

    Retailers often get angry at the law for not providing a solution to shoplifers. Unfortunatly their expectation of the law is often too high. I have yet to hear a practical legal solution to the problem.

    A citizen’s arrest is often portrayed to be more difficult than it actually is. For those in NSW there is a handy little guide from the police –


  • 10 Mark // Dec 30, 2009 at 10:03 PM

    I’d like the legislation to allow for the display of photos of people convicted fora period of time after the conviction. Public humiliation should deter some of the perpetrators.


  • 11 Glen // Dec 30, 2009 at 10:54 PM

    For about 2 years we have been displaying photos of thieves captured by our security system together with information on items they stole on our advertising screens in store – the same ones that I use to run the powerpoint slides from ACP and Pacific. Each slide is titled “Dis-honour Roll” and they randomly appear in amongst all the other slides. People not involved but in the picture always have the faces blacked out to avoid embarrassment or confusion, and I never put any pictures up unless I am absolutely certain that they have stolen.

    When I decided to do this I expected that I would face somebody’s wrath for doing so and told to remove them. This has yet to happen. I have had nothing but positive feedback from customers congratulating me for putting these criminals on display. The general public are as sick of these dishonest people as we are. Customers will stand and watch the screen waiting for the next slide, in the meantime being exposed to our advertising. It generates sales and serves to distract people whilst they are waiting to be served reducing angst in the busy times.

    We have a large regional Police station across the road from our centre and many of the police are regular customers, and all know of what we do. When we last caught someone stealing around 2 weeks ago the OIC of the station asked me if I wanted to press charges or “just put his picture on my screens”. I said I would do both.

    I also have signs in the shop stating that anyone caught stealing will get a guest appearance on our dis-honour roll, so they have been warned. I worked on the basis that it was easier to ask for forgiveness and remove the pictures than to ask permission to put them up.

    Bottom line is that it is very easy to avoid getting your picture on display!


  • 12 Glen // Dec 30, 2009 at 10:58 PM

    It also highlights to people in the store that we have video surveillance operating and that if they do steal then they may appear on the screens – hopefully making them think twice.

    Our large BXP screen also shows”live” security system footage from selected cameras so customers can see themselves on the screen. I just want to deter as many as I can, and I think this works quite well.


  • 13 Brett // Dec 31, 2009 at 12:03 AM


    Just be sure that you know that what you are doing is illegal and that you could have a law suit against you.


    Personally I would like the right to protect my stock. If that means taking it back then so be it. If that means being able to detain then better. To that end I would like to see, in legislation, the right of any individual to detain, using force if necessary, until the arrival of the police. That right must also free an individual, acting with appropriate sobriety, from vexatious or frivolous counter law suits.


  • 14 John H // Dec 31, 2009 at 4:23 AM


    That right under law already exists.You get it wrong, either procedurally or factually, you are in for a world of hurt, as it should be.I see where you are coming from (beleive me i do!) but let me pose a situation.

    A retailer notes an individual on their security cameras carrying an item under their arm that the retailer stocks.The retailer tracks the individual concerned via the cameras for the next few minutes and sees the person leave without paying for the item under their arm.

    The retailer pursues said individual down the street and does in fact use force to detain the person until the arrival of the police.The police quickly determine that the disputed item was in fact purchased elsewhere a short time earlier and the person has a receipt.

    This is a real life situation where the person handcuffed and bundled into the police van was the retailer.This person now faces assault, unlawful detention and resist police charges as well as a civil suit.

    Acting with “appropriate sobriety” means nothing if you simply have facts wrong and aren’t aware of it!
    You cannot enshrine in law something that protects the rights of one select group, that limits or extinguishes the rights of another group.


  • 15 shaun s // Dec 31, 2009 at 6:27 AM

    our local paper have a shame file which names people for drink driving how would shop lifting be any different . A law has been broken and name put in the paper so we should be able to do the same in store for shop lifters that are convicted


  • 16 Brad // Dec 31, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    Shaun the drink driving idea is a good one but not flavour of the month. Our issue with shop lifting is prevention, protection and if it comes to it justice. Shop lifting gangs, opportunist criminals and just stupid people are what we are fighting. The reason the police don’t want to get too involved as it is petty crime.
    Jarryd you say you haven’t heard of one pratical solution well champ there isn’t one. Even with diligent staff, state of the art cameras and name a shame tactics you will loose items to theft.
    We have a an organised gang of 3 50+ woman who operate on the northern end of the Gold Coast. They are clever in that they use one for the snatch and grab and the others as lookouts. There is also another gang of islanders that do the same but instead they target shop safes.
    I have seen kids leggit from Big W to shopping centre exit with staff in toe. I have seen mothers fill a pram hiding goods around an infant then crying poor when they get caught.
    My opinion as small as it is. You need to develop a name for prosecution and diligence. The message will get through on day at a time. These people do get to hear who will prosecute, who will approach and who will indentify them. There is nothing wrong with a loud ‘may I check your bag for that magazine sir’ Nothing like 20 heads turning at once.

    And Eric you don’t like this country then piss off to where ever you came from. I would rather be from a convict country than any other.


  • 17 Jarryd Moore // Dec 31, 2009 at 12:21 PM

    Many shoplifters won’t care if their picture is on display. Many, especially those that fall under ‘youth’ legislation, won’t even care if they get caught.

    On the issue of displaying photos of perpetrators, I wonder what message it sends customers. We talk about not having negative signs and creating vibrant positive retail environments – displaying photos of shoplifters goes completely against this. It send a message to customers that a) we have a shoplifting problem and b) you better be good because we are watching you. While plenty of retailers will have no issue sending those messages it is certainly not reflective of the environment I wan’t to create for my customers.


  • 18 Jarryd Moore // Dec 31, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    John H,

    You make a good point that many retailers often forget. “You cannot enshrine in law something that protects the rights of one select group, that limits or extinguishes the rights of another group.”


  • 19 Brett // Dec 31, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    John H,

    Re citizens arrest, if you read my first post a agree with you that it is nigh on impossible to conduct one without opening a case of worms.

    With respect to ‘enshrining in law’, what I seek is to retain the rights under citizens arrest but to make a vexatious claim in response to that arrest unsustainable in law. Should I abuse that power and detain someone without due cause I should be open to litigation however should I detain, and lets use your real life situation, and the police determine that I acted in good faith and I can demonstrate that, then I would not be in handcuffs. I do not seek to extinguish their rights merely rebalance the interaction.

    This is the key to unlock the travesty of justice that is occurring now where the bads guys have all the rights and we have none.


  • 20 Glen // Dec 31, 2009 at 3:15 PM

    As mentioned by Brad, the key is prevention in the first instance as far as possible and that is what I seek to do. By doing what I do it does cause some, but never all, to take their thieving ways elsewhere. Strangely, most of our thieving issues are with adults 30+ years old, not the youths. For 10 years we have a strict policy of handing every person we catch to police, regardless of age (youngest is 6 and oldest is early 80’s), and over time our issues with youths stealing have shrunk markedly.

    Jarred, our customers are faced with the realities of criminal activity on a daily basis, be it shoplifting, assaults, robbery etc etc. No one is surprised by the fact that shoplifting is a problem in retail. I want my customers to know that I actively try and deter criminal activity in my shop thereby creating an environment where it is less likely to occur leading to a more relaxed shopping environment. Never have I had a negative comment from any of my customers (though I expected some) regarding these pictures, but I have had many positive ones. I think people are happy to see someone fighting back. I view this as a positive sign to our customers.

    I acknowledge that it is not strictly legal, but at some stage we have to start pushing back.


  • 21 Aaron // Dec 31, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    There’s a few shops I’ve been to that have pictures of shoplifters posted onto a wall/board. Some were small retail shops, another was a grocer.

    Signs clearly stated that those people were bad customers and not welcome.

    Personally I don’t see anything wrong with that. If someone gets caught stealing, they should make them wear a i’m sorry shirt or a sign saying that they tried to steal something.


  • 22 Jarryd Moore // Dec 31, 2009 at 11:33 PM


    The problem with that is the your idea of good faith and someone else’s idea is going to be very different. Not even the police arrest someone on “good faith”. They have to be sure the person committed the crime before making an arrest. Citizens should be held to that same standard.

    When people say that “bad guys” have all the rights they forget that they are
    ‘innocent until proven guilty’. In John’s case the person committed no crime – why should they not receive compensation for being falsely arrested and detained?


  • 23 Jarryd Moore // Dec 31, 2009 at 11:37 PM


    Customers rarely give negative comments. Its the same for signs such as “don’t ask for credit” and “this is not a library”. It sends the subliminal message that you don’t trust your cutomers.


  • 24 John H // Jan 1, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    “good faith” is not a legitimate defence to anything.What happens if someone conducting a citizens arrest “sees red” and uses excessive force or just plain poor technique and seriously injures or kills someone? You cannot have your cake and eat it,and you must expect to stand accountable for your actions .What would YOU expect to happen if it 2am you are loading your delivery vehicle with bulks to take to subbies, and a good citizen notices this and decides that because the newsagency is clearly shut, you must be a thief and makes a citizens arrest, detaining you with force until the police arrive?Would you accept them being let off scott free because they acted in “good faith”? No.

    I’ll close with 2 points:
    * While allowed for in law, citizens arrest are fraught with danger of all kinds.Apart from obvious physical dangers, if you get it wrong in any shape or form, you are in big trouble.Let me repeat.BIG TROUBLE.Potentially lose your home/business/car/all your cash trouble.

    *when you see statements like “the bad guys have all the rights and the good guys have none”, or similiar, it generally means people aren’t aware of their rights (and responsibilities it would seem!).The reason this perception exists is because the bad guys know EXACTLY what their rights are and exercise them and usually the good guys don’t.Go talk to a solicitor and a security consultant about what you can and cannot do.If you do it right, you can even claim it back as a tax deduction!


  • 25 prisoner // Jan 4, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Not being a shop owner, but having been on the other side of this in the past (not presently) I think that there is a lot of misinformation here. I think you need to talk to someone who really understands loss prevention. I am not an LP person either, but having been busted for shoplifting I kind of got an education of what the LP can do to arrest a shoplifter.

    I had been shoplifting for awhile and thought I found a safe way to do it by taking a bunch of items into a dressing room, removing tags on what I wanted, and either wearing the stolen items underneath my clothes or stuffing them into my jacket. Well, that worked for awhile, but one time as I exited the store a lady came up to me and said, “Sir, I’m with Store loss prevention. I’d like you to come back with me to the office to discuss some merchandise you have with you that was not paid for.” Well, I tried to bluff my way out of it, saying I had a receipt for what was in my bag, but she wasn’t having any of that. I had also heard that stores are afraid to have their people actually touch you, for the kind of reasons posted here. So, I tried walking. Well, that didn’t work either. She grabbed me and I tried to push her away. There was a brief scuffle and I found myself face down on the floor with this lady kneeling on my back and right arm and snapping the handcuffs on. This was horribly humiliating to have a woman do this to me in public. Then I had to endure being marched by her back through the store, my hands cuffed behind my back, and then go through the ordeal of sitting in the detention room while she filled out her paperwork and called for the police. I got taken to jail – marched through the store again in handcuffs – because I was charged with both assault and shoplifting. Well, the whole experience was horrible but my lawyer told me it was all legal. I learned my lesson.

    I think that one of the big keys to making some progress on this issue for you store owners is to learn your legal rights to detain someone and, when you’re acting within your rights, don’t take any sass from shoplifters. Instead, be pretty aggressive about handcuffing them and charging them. Word will get around that your store is tough and you will get less theft.

    The idea of posting a picture is a good one, too, I think, if it’s legal. At least for me the fear of humiliation is what cured me.


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