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Retail crime: 5000 crimes at New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square in three months

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By RNZ

Figures from the supermarket company Foodstuffs show retail crime has doubled in the past two years.

More than 5000 incidents were reported in the first quarter of this year at 320 New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square stores in the North Island.

That’s up 56 per cent on the same period last year, and 116 per cent more than two years ago.

Theft makes up the majority of offences, but the company said there has been a big jump in cases of violence, assault and harassment.

There were 60 assaults during the three-month period and 26 cases of harassment.

Foodstuffs was continuing to trial controversial facial recognition technology in 25 stores, which it hopes will better identify repeat offenders.

North Island general counsel Julian Benefield told Morning Report the trial was still in its early days but trial stores said they were seeing a reduction in crime.

The data showed repeat offenders made up a third of all offences across all stores.

Benefield said the trial stores were noticing repeat offenders being less aggressive when approached.

“We do need more time to ensure that that trend is statistically significant but the early signs are positive.”

The technology compares people against a database of repeat offenders and there was only a match when it reached a 90 accuracy per cent threshold, he said.

Figures from the supermarket company Foodstuffs show retail crime has doubled in the past two years. Photo / 123RF
Figures from the supermarket company Foodstuffs show retail crime has doubled in the past two years. Photo / 123RF

“The really important part of it then is the human intervention – trained team members then need to check that it is the right person.”

However, one supermarket trialling facial recognition technology mistakenly identified a Māori woman as a thief.

Benefield said there was a “huge focus on training” in this store after the incident.

He said the new data showed a “significant increase” in crime.

“Of significant concern is the increase in violent and aggressive offences, so we’ve seen a doubling of assaults and harassment in the last quarter, which is a real concern.”



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