The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has thrown its support behind Victoria Police calls for a stronger response to punish violent thieves who commit crimes against retailers.
North West Metro Commander Tim Hansen said police planned to lobby government to try and create a new ‘aggravated shop steal’ offence.
AACS CEO Jeff Rogut agrees a stronger legislative response is needed to deter and punish violent criminals.
“Anyone who robs from honest retailers, and especially those who use violence in doing so, have no place in our community. We want to see them removed from the streets and punished appropriately,” Mr Rogut said.
“It undermines the good work of police to apprehend these thieves only for the judicial system to give them a slap on the wrist and send them back out into the community to re-offend.”
Rogut called on retailers to have their voices heard. “We encourage retailers to engage with their local government and opposition MP’s to give them a sense of the issues, and also to form a relationship with their local police so that they may work together where problems exist,” he said. “They may also give them advice in terms of potential issues with site and store layouts that encourage criminal activity.”
Rogut said it no-one should face the threat of violence as they go about their work. “We need police, the court system and law-makers to be on the same page on this issue,” said Rogut. “Get these criminals off our streets and make them pay for the physical, emotional, psychological and financial harm they inflict on their victims.”
Convenience stores operators and staff are often the victims of violent robberies, usually targeting cigarettes. “There needs to be a clear message sent to people who commit these crimes that they will pay an extremely hefty price,” Rogut said.
“This requires the toughest possible penalties for those who assault and steal from honest retailers and their staff.”