Survey Information: Retail Theft – Verbal and Physical Aggression Survey 2018 (PDF)

There are few things more frustrating for a retailer to deal with than theft. It can come in a variety of different forms and sizes, but even minor offences can result in a significant loss of time and money.

Despite this, a common gripe among retailers is that shoplifting is not regarded as seriously as other breaches of the law. Consequently, do the current laws need to be reviewed in order to better safeguard the sector from petty crime?

We have compiled some basic information below on offences such as shoplifting, failure to pay for items and unauthorised damage to property.

Type of offence?

Minor acts such as shoplifting, not paying for an item or committing unauthorised damage to property is classed as a ‘regulatory offence’.

Categories of ‘regulatory offence’?

  1. Unauthorised dealing with shop goods valued $150 or less, including:
  • Shoplifting;
  • Consuming food or drink inside a store without paying; or
  • Changing/removing price tags or crossing out the price.
  1. Leaving establishments such as restaurants or hotels without paying for goods and services valued $150 or less, including:
  • Leaving without paying;
  • Paying with bad cheques; or
  • Using an unauthorised credit card.
  1. Unauthorised damage to property valued at $250 or less.

The legal process?

All regulatory offences are handled by the Magistrates Court, with no option to take allegations to a higher court.

The penalties?

A person found guilty of a regulatory offence will have it added to their criminal history. In serious circumstances, the police may increase the charge to stealing, fraud or wilful damage.


ACT Police – Bag Checking Factsheet

ACT Police – Shoplifting Prevention and Detection

NSW Police – Shoplifting Booklet (doc)

SA Government – Shoplifters

Tasmania Police – Shoplifting Prevention and Detection

Current Retail Crime Statistics

Each State and Territory Police report retail crime and shoplifting under different names and use different data variables, such as offences occurring yearly vs. monthly. This makes it is difficult to track retail crime trends on a national level. This document collates State and Territory Police crime statistics to chart shoplifting trends.
The National Retail Association will update this information as it becomes available.

Download report >

Contact our team

David Stout

David Stout

Director Policy National Retail Association
David is a highly-respected senior executive across a wide range of retail sectors including corporate affairs, operations, customer insights, finance, procurement, risk and regulation, stakeholder engagement, community and supply chain.  He is favourably regarded as a bipartisan and ethical operative in best practice across retail and corporate industry, regional and urban councils, local and state governments, and is currently involved in multiple advisory groups / committees.
Ebony Johnson

Ebony Johnson

Project Manager, Policy National Retail Association
As Project Manager in the Policy team, Ebony brings a strong background across the retail, textile, and hospitality sectors in project management, stakeholder relations, marketing and communications. Ebony provides project management expertise to multiple projects, including sustainability, product safety, retail crime and committees.