Beverley Martyn, owner of Rags to Ritz in Lismore, says she has to be constantly on guard to prevent shoplifting.
Beverley Martyn, owner of Rags to Ritz in Lismore, says she has to be constantly on guard to prevent shoplifting.

Spike in shoplifting angers city business owners

By Luke Prendergast BUDGETING to be stolen from is a sad fact for clothing retailers in Lismore.

CBD traders Bev Martyn and Odette Gage are among the many Lismore business people who have grown accustomed to writing-off up to eight per cent of their profits to petty theft.

But the pair have had enough. An apparent increase in shoplifting over the past few weeks was the last straw and they decided it was time to to speak out.

Ms Martyn, who owns and manages Rags to Ritz in Keen Street, says retailers in the Lismore CBD have spread the word, warning each other about the recent spate of thefts and circulating desvriptions of the people they believe are responsible.

She has no doubt shoplifting activity has increased recently.

"It sure has. We have had lots of experiences along the way. We do find that people every now and then have got something up their jumper or down their knickers," she said.

"Last week a girl working here didn't lock the till when she went out the back and when she came back she saw someone snap the till shut and run out the door. Fortunately it was only $110 because we take out big notes out the back.

"It's very hard for the police to do anything unless you catch them and hold them. I've been here 15 years and you have spurts of it and the last few weeks there has been someone around."

Ms Gage agrees. "It's upsetting because you don't like to think (that people steal).

"You're honest, most people are honest, you work hard for the money you get. Retailing's not easy and I object to the fact that people get something for nothing."

Ms Gage said that in her four years she had caught three shoplifters and been aware of many others.

"Other than the girls watching people as they come through we don't have any security at all," she said.

"We do try to keep an eye on it but you can't be in two places at one time."

Ms Martyn has been in business for 36 years and said shoplifting was now worse than ever.

"If someone wants to take something from right in front of you and they're used to it they will do it," she said.

At the time of writing, Lismore police did not have any data to confirm or deny the reports of a recent shoplifting increase, but Inspector Steve Clark said there were a number of steps shopkeepers could take to minimise opportunities for would-be thieves.

"Predominantly we look for them to work with us ? our crime prevention officer ? to safeguard their business premises as much as possible and of course to report any matters or incidents to the police to be followed up," he said.



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