Monday, July 22, 2024

Industry-wide concern over rising crime

Independent grocers across Australia are calling on governments in all jurisdictions to take immediate and meaningful action to combat a growing scourge of youth crime.

David Inall, CEO of MGA Independent Businesses Australia says there has been an escalation in not just the number of family stores being hit, but the level of violence used by perpetrators.

“Communities are living in fear,” he said. “Violence against innocent staff is not something we ever expect to see in Australia, and quite frankly, this should have been addressed by now. Enough is enough.”

Tobacco troubles

Mr Inall says many of the attacks are targeting tobacco, with stolen goods then being pushed into the illegal tobacco market.

“Our members, through this organisation, have been ringing the alarm bell around illegal tobacco for the last eight years since 2016,” he said.

“Earlier this year, the Federal Government allocated $188.5 million to support cross-jurisdictional task forces throughout the states of Australia to fight illegal tobacco. Nothing is happening, and businesses and their staff are fed up.”

More resources needed

Mr Inall acknowledges that police are doing what they can with the resources available and says they have independent grocers’ full support.

“But we need to see significantly more resources allocated to tackle youth crime, with a substantial tightening of bail conditions and tougher penalties,” he said.

“Speaking with staff and store owners who were brutalised this past weekend, the message is clear: they are tired and quite frankly expect more from government.”

Armed hold-up

Dockendorffs Grocer, a North Brighton supermarket operated by the Reddrop Group, was a victim of an armed hold-up late Saturday afternoon.

The traumatic incident has affected not only the team members present but also its broader supermarket team, their families, and communities, a statement from the business said.

“Unfortunately, this type of criminal behaviour, while shocking, is becoming more frequent,” Reddrop group said. “On the same night as the armed hold-up in Melbourne, our Seymour store was also burgled. Earlier this year, three additional stores experienced robberies, including armed hold-ups.

“Despite employing security guards at several locations, their presence does little to deter persistent theft. Cost-of-living pressures are contributing to stress within our community and teams, as well as among business managers who strive to maintain a safe and pleasant work environment.”

Reddrop Group’s vulnerability as a business is exacerbated by the lack of support from state and federal governments, it says, which is “creating an unsafe environment encroaching upon our workplaces”.

“We strongly advocate for state government reforms to bail laws and juvenile incarceration policies to mitigate these crimes and deter potential offenders,” the company said.

“We are actively collaborating with the police, government, and industry bodies such as MGA to ensure our concerns are addressed.”

Calls for government to listen

Mr Inall says lawlessness is the number one priority for MGA members, “and we will do everything to highlight these perpetual political failings and hold governments to account”.

“We hope that the recent incidents will prompt the government to finally listen to and act upon the concerns of retailers, thereby creating a safer environment for our communities and workplaces,” Reddrop Group said.

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