WA introduces tough new laws for low-level theft offences

Repeat offenders charged with low-level stealing offences could face up to two years of imprisonment under tough new laws in WA.

Currently, when a person is charged with stealing an item valued at $1,000 or less, and dealt with in the Magistrates Court, a ‘fine only’ penalty of $6,000 applies.

The new laws are designed to deter repeat shoplifting and petty theft, with these repeat offenders being subject to the new higher maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and $24,000 when dealt with summarily.

John Quigley, WA Attorney General, said the increased maximum penalty will provide a more effective deterrent for those offenders who would otherwise engage in repeated shoplifting and petty theft and ensure that courts have the power to impose sentences that reflect community expectations.

“Shoplifting is a pervasive issue that all retail workers confront, which particularly impacts small businesses. The ‘fine only’ penalty for low-level stealing offences is well known in the community and does not provide a sufficient deterrent for would-be offenders.”

The move has been welcomed by the nation’s peak retail crime committee including the National Retail Association (NRA), the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) and the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA).

Theo Foukkare, CEO of AACS, said the safety and welfare of its members and the public is its highest priority.

“The need for increased measures to deter offenders is an essential part of crime prevention. On behalf of the AACS, I welcome the proposed measures aimed at reducing crime and crime related behaviour, particularly recidivist teenage criminals.”

Lindsay Carroll, Acting CEO at the NRA , said the NRA’s Retail Crime Committee has worked closely with the WA Police Force to highlight the need for additional deterrents for offenders, including sentencing reform.

“The proposed reforms target low value, high frequency offending which plague a significant section of the retail sector.

“We continue to encourage the industry to incentivise reporting to authorities to provide meaningful intelligence to police to ensure these new and existing measures can be as effective as possible.”

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