Brisbane Times:

Confessions of a Fortitude Valley thief

September 18 2013
Ellie McLachlan

Self-confessed thieves, driven by unemployment and high prices, are researching the level of security employed by local retailers before deliberately targeting them.

A teenage shoplifter said she and her friends would not steal if they knew there was a possibility of getting caught.

She’s unsuspecting, hair dip-died a vibrant aqua blue and a fashionable tattoo on her back. Her dress is like most her age – festival attire: shorts, tiger face singlet, woven bracelets and Vans.

“If a shop’s buzzer was faulty, you would hear it through friends,” she says.

“We know if it’s alright to go there. We know all the different parts of the store.

“Like in Rush in the city, I know where all the cameras are, I know where to go to rip off a tag and take the item.”

Stealing is not something that is looked down upon by people she associates with because it saves money.

“I steal because it’s cheaper. Some things are just way overpriced for what they are,” she said.

Madeleine Patane, from Terry White Chemist, admitted store prices have to be inflated to allow for losses stemming from theft.

“Not all of our [products] get claimed back on insurance so [what] we do lose, we need to make it back somehow. You can’t always just cut staff and reduce hours, sometimes you need to up the prices a little bit just to compensate for what’s being lost,” said Ms Patane.

Young people have blamed job cuts announced by the State Government last year for the hard time they are having finding jobs, and consequently for their need to resort to shoplifting.

“If you’re not getting money, the temptation [to steal] does increase, especially if you’ve already done it before because you know how to do it, you know it’s pretty easy in most places.

“It’s quite addictive,” said the shoplifter.

The shoplifter said she had never considered joining one of the many organisations that encourage good behaviour in young people, although many others do.

Diane Spediacci, Client Management Coordinator at the Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service in Fortitude Valley, has the opinion that the service greatly benefits young people in the Valley.

“The service provides young people with opportunities to come in and chill out from being on the streets. It’s a safe place for them,” said Ms Spediacci.

Joel Abbott, Director of Pacific Security Group, who tries to monitor and stop theft on a daily basis, understands the motives of these young street youths.

“They need to get by and survive. A lot of times they will be doing petty theft either to feed a habit or to feed themselves,” said Mr Abbot.

An attempt was made to understand how the local authorities are dealing with youth behaviour and theft, however the Queensland Police Service refused a request to be interviewed.