Grocers record almost 40% increase in North Island Retail Crime calls for greater collaboration to solve “complex issue”

7 June 2023

The Facts and Figures

  • 3,285 incidents of retail crime reported across Foodstuffs North Island stores throughout February-April 2023, compared to 2,377 incidents in the same quarter last year. This is a 38.2% increase and equates to an average of 37 incidents of retail crime a day
  • Serious incidents such as burglary, assault, robbery, and other aggressive, violent, and threatening behaviour are up 36% for the same quarter, year on year
  • Repeat offenders are responsible for 36% of all reported retail crime incidents
  • The number of reported repeat offenders has increased by 34% from last year
  • 2,541 incidents were related to shoplifting – that's a 57% increase year on year for February-April
  • 254 incidents involved a trespass order being breached
  • 81 incidents of disorderly conduct e.g. verbally or racially abusing team members, being drunk, or behaving inappropriately
  • Premium cuts of meat, high value health and beauty products are the most targeted items for theft

Grocers running the North Island’s New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores recorded a nearly 40% (38.2%) increase in retail crime between February and April of this year, with daily incidents of assault, aggression, threatening behaviour, abuse, and theft.

The 320 grocers are members of the Foodstuffs North Island co-operative.

“Our grocers have never seen retail crime at these levels. It’s an extremely concerning trend and it’s unacceptable,” says Chris Quin, Chief Executive of Foodstuffs North Island.

“Retail crime is coming through the front doors of grocery stores and impacting our teams every day. Grocers are focussed on keeping their people safe and that means investing in de-escalation and conflict management training and helping people to cope in a situation which involves aggression,” says Quin.

The number of shoplifting incidents has increased by 57% compared with the February-to-April quarter last year, and grocers say shoplifters are becoming increasingly aggressive and violent. Repeat offenders are responsible for 36% of all retail crime incidents and the number of repeat offenders has increased by 34% from last year.

“I see the reports of what our store owners and their people are dealing with on a daily basis, and it’s distressing when we have people threatening our team members with weapons and throwing punches. 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.”

Foodstuffs North Island has today released new retail crime figures showing the scale of the issue being faced by grocery store owners and their teams in New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores around the North Island. The data also reveals emerging trends in criminal behaviour.

“Our 320 grocers serve just about every community in the North Island so that combines to provide what we think is one of the biggest data sets charting retail crime, and the impact it has on our teams and customers. We want to share this information to help everyone understand the extent of the issue so we can work together to find solutions to continue to keep our people and customers safe,” says Quin.

“Our local grocers collectively support 24,000 team members and 2.7 million New Zealanders who shop at their stores every week. It’s important we fully understand the nature of retail crime so we can evolve our security and safety strategies and ensure we’re doing all we can to keep our people safe while providing New Zealanders with a safe place to shop.”

In February-to-April 2023, 3,285 incidents of retail crime were reported across New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores in the North Island compared to 2,377 incidents in the same period last year - an increase of 38.2%.

Serious incidents such as burglary, assault, robbery, and other aggressive, violent, and threatening behaviour are up 36% on the February-to-April quarter for last year.

“This is very concerning for our co-operative members. They’re responsible for the safety of their teams who’re on the frontline of retail crime, and for the safety of their customers who’re coming into their stores every day.”

Foodstuffs North Islands’ security and loss prevention teams have identified incidents of co-ordinated crime involving individuals or groups who are stealing to order and to on-sell. In one case, which is currently before the courts, tens of thousands of dollars' worth of non-perishable goods were stolen over a period of months and shipped overseas.

“The trend we’re increasingly seeing is professional criminals who’re stealing brand-specific goods to order. That’s not something we’ve seen before at these levels.”

In another incident, one repeat offender stole 31 whole eye, scotch, and sirloin fillets over a period of weeks, valued at almost $3,200. Foodstuffs’ security specialists say the behaviour indicates it’s being stolen to order, or to sell.

Shoplifters who’re identified are trespassed where appropriate, but it’s not easy keeping repeat offenders from returning to the store to reoffend. Foodstuffs North Island recorded 254 cases of customers breaching trespass notices in the February-April 2023 quarter.

“There are three key drivers of retail crime which our security specialists believe are driving most of these crimes. They’re saying it’s professional criminals who’re stealing to order or to on-sell, its often people struggling with addiction and they’re stealing to fund or fuel their addiction, and its groups of youths who’re committing destructive acts which they film and then post on social media,” says Quin.

“Retail crime went up in every region of the North Island in the February-to-April quarter, except Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne which were heavily impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.”

“There’s no postcode for the current wave of crime. It’s in the cities, the regions, and in our small communities too. It’s right across the North Island.”

“To really address this complex issue, we need strong collaboration between Government, Police, community leaders and business owners. Our grocers and our co-operative is committed to working together with communities to tackle retail crime.” says Quin.