Trolley locks and double-entry gates: Countdown investing $45m in security after massive spike in crime, aggression

Trolley locks and double-entry gates will soon be the new normal when shopping at Countdown stores.

The supermarket chain is investing $45 million in security upgrades to tackle a sharp rise in shoplifting and aggression.

Stuffing a trolley full of stolen goods, a brazen daylight robbery unfolded at a Countdown supermarket in south Auckland.

The video was captured by a man who watched in disbelief.

"By the time I was done with my shopping, all I see is them running out towards a car which had two ladies in it, with the boot open, and the security lady was a bit old and she was trying to run after them," they told Newshub.

Sadly, it's nothing new. In the past six years, Countdown's owner Woolworths has recorded a 326 percent increase in theft and an 806 percent rise in security incidents.

"We've definitely noticed an increase in shoplifting and aggression post-COVID and that is what our team have to deal with every day," said Woolworths safer stores delivery manager Gordon Adams.

The supermarket chain is now investing $45 million over the next three years to ramp up security.

That includes trolleys that can be locked by remote control to stop shoplifters, new camera technology at self-checkouts and double-entry gates.

Staff will be equipped with push-to-talk radios and be trained to deal with conflict.

"It's not fair to expect anybody to deal with aggressive customers," Adams said.

The same pain is being felt by Foodstuffs - the company behind supermarkets like PAK'nSAVE. Between February and April this year, retail crime was up nearly 40 percent compared to the same time last year, while aggressive and threatening behaviour was up 36 percent.

Matt Tierney from the Police National Retail Investigation Support Unit supports supermarkets increasing security.

"Make it much more difficult for offenders to commit crime on their premises," Tierney said.

But he acknowledges the rising cost of living is a contributing factor to retail crime.

"It can be an addiction base, whether that's drugs, alcohol, gambling - it can be stealing to live," he said.

"It's annoying because if the supermarkets are making a loss they're gonna put the prices up," the man who videoed the robbery told Newshub.

Woolworths wouldn't say how much of a financial hit it's taken from theft.

"We know we're losing stock from non-payment and theft, yes," Adams said.

But it's prepared to spend millions to stop shoplifters in their tracks - before it gets any worse.