Retail NZ says households paying more for groceries to subsidise criminal behaviour after thieves' brazen robbery attempt

Retail NZ says Kiwi households are paying hundreds of dollars more for groceries to subsidise criminal activity seen at supermarkets. 

It comes after two women made a brazen attempt to steal a trolley full of groceries from Countdown Papakura on Sunday morning.

The dramatic video shows two women trying to leave the store with the groceries only for two staff members to jump in and try to wrestle the trolley off them.

The staff members eventually trip the trolley over, leaving the woman to grab a couple of items from the floor before hastily leaving the store. 

During the altercation, the women threatened the staff members and told them they were "not allowed to touch" them.

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford told AM on Tuesday incidents like this are frustrating and "not right". 

"We're hearing about incidents like this on a weekly basis, more than weekly," Harford told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.

"There just seems to be a lot of criminal activity going on where people sort of feel they can load their shopping trolleys up and walk out of stores with impunity and it's not right." 

Retail NZ CEO Greg Harford.
Retail NZ CEO Greg Harford. Photo credit: AM

Harford said the increased criminal activity is ultimately costing Kiwi households hundreds of dollars. 

"It's putting staff at risk and ultimately it's costing every household hundreds of dollars because we're all subsidising this kind of criminal behaviour," Harford explained. 

The woman who filmed the brazen robbery attempt, Carlene Mataira, told AM it's not the first time she's seen something like this happen. 

"I live like two minutes away from here and as I was walking home, I actually got angry because it happens way too much in Papakura, way too much. People need to stand together and try and nip this in the bud," Mataira said. 

She told AM she had witnessed similar offending the last two times she visited the store.

Mataira believes the cost of living crisis is just an excuse for criminals to commit this type of offending. 

"I think a lot of it is, yeah, the price of everything is going up but you make changes. You give up a little. You sacrifice certain things that were a luxury to you before so that you can afford the things that you need," she said. 

"I think that's what a lot of people do and a lot of these other people need to learn how to do that." 

Mataira said a lot of Papakura locals are "angry" and "sick" of this type of offending. 

"It doesn't matter who you are, you are not entitled to do anything like that. I mean, come on, it was Sunday morning," she said. 

"I just hurt for the staff that have to put up with this and it's not a once-in-a-while thing, it happens quite often and I just feel for them and I applaud them." 

Shoplifting witness Carlene Mataira.
Shoplifting witness Carlene Mataira. Photo credit: AM

Harford said their advice for staff is not to get involved and try to intervene and to call the police. 

"The police are the people who have the powers and who are best able to deal with these situations," he said. 

"It's a good idea to gather some evidence if you can but we certainly advised not to intervene physically. That doesn't mean it's okay for people to be walking out of stores with trolleys of shopping that they're not paying for. It's stall theft, it's still criminal and it's not right."

Police said they received a report of theft from Countdown Papakura on Great South Road at 8:20am on Sunday.

A police spokesperson said they attended the store and made enquiries.

"Our staff work closely with retail groups and retailers themselves to help prevent thefts," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said police have an important role to play in stopping criminal activity like this but it's not something they can combat alone.

"Police work with retailers around layout and design referred to as crime prevention through environmental design. Our teams have also provided in-store training to educate retailers on how to report crimes through AUROR," the spokesperson said.

"We rely on retailers to report thefts to us, as this enables us to put our efforts and resources into the right places. Police would absolutely encourage retailers to report theft as soon as possible after it happens, to allow us the best possible opportunity of taking action."

Watch the full interview with Greg Harford and Carlene Mataira above.