Legislative Council: Thursday, March 21, 2024


Shop Theft

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD (14:54): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General regarding rising rates of shop theft in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. D.G.E. HOOD: Over the past 12 months, South Australia has experienced a significant spike in crime, with statistics revealing that shop theft has increased by some 30 per cent over that period, with violent incidents occurring in Rundle Mall in the last week or so that we are all aware of. In response to the significant rise in shoplifting, in The Advertiser today the police commissioner is quoted as saying, and I quote directly:

Retail shop theft is a growing trend…The question…is what is happening in our society that creates a mindset that [shoplifting]…is OK to do…What is it that makes [people]…think that they're going to get away with this [that is, shop theft]? If there's no sense that you’re going to be held accountable for your behaviour, then there's no incentive not to do it.

I note that in a survey conducted by America's National Association for Shoplifting Prevention involving hundreds of participants including judges, prosecutors, probation professionals and law enforcement officers, almost 80 per cent of the respondents said that their professional experience has shown that shoplifting is a gateway to more serious crimes. I understand that this subject matter crosses over into the Minister for Police but my questions to the Attorney-General specifically are:

1. Does the Attorney-General deem this situation to be satisfactory especially in light of the police commissioner's comments?

2. Will or has the Attorney scheduled a meeting with the commissioner in order to discuss this very serious and concerning matter?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:55): I thank the honourable member for his question. I want to be very clear: we consider all crime to be unsatisfactory. Shop theft is theft. It doesn't matter where you are taking things from, you are taking something that doesn't belong to you and it is a criminal offence.

I have regular meetings with the police commissioner to discuss things that traverse what he does as the police commissioner and the portfolios that are encompassed by the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General's Department. I do note that I understand the police acknowledged community concern in relation to particularly Rundle Mall issues and announced in a statement the launching of an increased presence and highly visible and responsive presence in Rundle Mall.