Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy joined the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) CEO Jeff Rogut on a tour of convenience stores late at night to get a firsthand look.
Mr Rogut had previously challenged the Victorian government after the Victorian Police Commissioner declared that was no crime crisis in Victoria, despite C-store owners being targeted by robberies and crimes on a weekly basis.
Mr Rogut said: “Convenience stores play a valuable role in communities everywhere, providing an after-hours service for customers in need. But the nature of the industry means that, without an acknowledgment of the current state of crime in Victoria, and with no real deterrents in place, our operators are too often left exposed”.
“Mr Guy has pledged his support for additional crime deterrents if the Opposition is elected and spoke of his concern about the escalation of crime in Victoria – and particularly against our industry. The AACS welcomes his support on this critical issue.
“The Opposition has previously declared that, if they win office, they will declare petrol theft a crime.
“Petrol theft costs our industry approximately $66 million annually and formally declaring it a crime is important to serve as an additional deterrent.
“On the other hand, the Government has been silent on this issue. The time for action is now and turning a blind eye to this issue is no longer acceptable,” he said.
Mr Rogut also highlighted the illicit tobacco market as a major crime that is impacting the convenience industry.
“The Government seems pre-occupied with semantics at the moment, and what constitutes a crisis when it comes to crime. Meanwhile, people in our industry are feeling less and less safe when they go to work,” he said.
“Zero tolerance to crime is the only option left. The Opposition has shown its intentions in this regard, now we challenge the Government to do likewise.”