Safe Retail

The National Retail Association recently visited two major inner-city suburban street precincts and found vastly different retailer sentiment towards crime and customer aggression.

Precinct A:
Retailers believe their close proximity to Centrelink, probation and parole offices, multiple employment agencies and a methadone clinic can be linked to their rampant shoplifting and almost daily encounters with drug- or alcohol-affected individuals. Many staff are genuinely scared when drug-affected individuals come into stores and retailers are concerned that once COVID-19 payment schemes end, these encounters will become more frequent and pronounced.
  • Op Shops are highly targeted shoplifters, sometimes even stealing from nearby op shops and returning items for a refund at another. The managers reported daily theft with one store having to install security cameras and another now employing a full time security guard. They think that many feel justified in shoplifting as they receive stock as donations and their respective charities won’t miss any of the proceeds, despite stores still having sale targets and needing to pay wages, leases, store maintenance, and now security.
  • Store owners are frustrated that this level of crime is now accepted by police and surrounding tenants as the norm.
  • This precinct has nearly 50% store vacancy, impacting the visual amenity of and foot traffic to the precinct.
Precinct B:
Retailers also reported having theft and drug- or alcohol-affected individuals coming into stores and being disruptive but this was accepted by staff as harmless and “part of the precinct’s charm”.
  • One retailer reported often seeing people passed out in the alleyway next to her store, sometimes seeing people using drug utensils and one time having a man passed out in front of her front door. She called the police but didn’t receive a response for four hours by which time an ambulance had taken the man. The retailer brushed these incidents off saying “what can you do?”
  • An op shop reported a few instances of customers using counterfeit $50 notes.


The National Retail Association urges retailers to report all instances of crime to Policelink so that law enforcement can get a more accurate reflection of the scope of the issue and deploy relevant resources in the future. To find the relevant state or territory online crime reporting platform, please click here.


About the SafeCity Network

The National Retail Association’s SafeCity Network brings together retailers, government and law enforcement to better inform and equip retailers to reduce retail crime.

On 1 March 2018, the NRA launched the SafeCity Network as a trial in Brisbane aimed at increasing collaboration and insight between retailers to reduce retail crime. By reducing crime over the long term, the program aims to attract more shoppers and visitors, and ultimately create a more vibrant, safer retail precincts.

Participants in the SafeCity Network gain access to regular crime alerts and bulletins based on real-world intelligence shared by other retailers.