Lightfingered roundup

By 23 December, 2013 33

ACT Policing has arrested another 15 people as part of a blitz on shoplifting in the Canberra’s south in the past few weeks.

Officers from ACT Policing’s Crime Reduction Team, along with officers from Woden Police Station, identified and apprehended seven adults and eight juveniles.

Most of the items taken were food and Christmas merchandise from supermarkets.

Superintendent of Crime Reduction and Intelligence Cath Grassick said Canberra retailers and business owners experience a significant theft problem, especially this time of year and ACT Policing will continue to work with retailers to apprehend those responsible.

During the operation so far, 38 people have been arrested for minor theft and one person was apprehended for trespassing after failing to comply with a banning notice.

“I want to remind people that shoplifting is a crime and the community will not tolerate anyone thinking stealing is acceptable”, said Superintendent Grassick.

ACT Policing provides a free service to local businesses, offering information on how to protect your business from crime. To speak to one of our ACT Policing Business Liaison Officers, contact (02) 6256 7777.

If you have any information in relation to people shoplifting in your area, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via www.act.crimestoppers.com.au. Information can be provided anonymously.

[Courtesy ACT Policing]

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33 Responses to Lightfingered roundup
#1
Persephone9:53 am, 23 Dec 13

What grind my gears is that the police and shop owners collect these scumbags, and the courts let these scumbags go with really no consequences, because they had something traumatic in their childhood like their father wasn’t there or their mothers didn’t give them enough hugs.

It’s all great that sup. Grassick isn’t tolerating anyone stealing, but frankly the effort and cost to put a thief through the watchhouse and then the courts – then the magistrate gives no consequence makes it even a bigger burdon on society footing a cost of stock loss, cost/effort for store employee holding the person awaiting police, paperwork and statements, police, courts, police cars, watchhouse , meal in watchhouse, etc etc … that amounts to “maybe a fine” for the scumbag.

#2
Tooks11:04 am, 23 Dec 13

Persephone said :

What grind my gears is that the police and shop owners collect these scumbags, and the courts let these scumbags go with really no consequences, because they had something traumatic in their childhood like their father wasn’t there or their mothers didn’t give them enough hugs.

It’s all great that sup. Grassick isn’t tolerating anyone stealing, but frankly the effort and cost to put a thief through the watchhouse and then the courts – then the magistrate gives no consequence makes it even a bigger burdon on society footing a cost of stock loss, cost/effort for store employee holding the person awaiting police, paperwork and statements, police, courts, police cars, watchhouse , meal in watchhouse, etc etc … that amounts to “maybe a fine” for the scumbag.

Actually, it’s not unheard of for recidivist shoplifters to get stints in jail.

For a first timer stealing 20 bucks worth of stock, what punishment would you like to see dished out?

#3
curmudgery11:32 am, 23 Dec 13

A weekend in solitary.

And it’s not 20 bucks – it’s 20 bucks plus on-costs. He’s stealing, in effect, 20 bucks plus the retailer’s time, the police time, the court’s time and all the other costs associated with redressing the theft under the law.

And that will total a lot more than 20 bucks.

#4
Rawhide Kid Part311:42 am, 23 Dec 13

Tooks said :

For a first timer stealing 20 bucks worth of stock, what punishment would you like to see dished out?

Cost recovery from the offender to the community ?

#5
AsparagusSyndrome12:23 pm, 23 Dec 13

Tooks said :

Persephone said :

What grind my gears is that the police and shop owners collect these scumbags, and the courts let these scumbags go with really no consequences, because they had something traumatic in their childhood like their father wasn’t there or their mothers didn’t give them enough hugs.

It’s all great that sup. Grassick isn’t tolerating anyone stealing, but frankly the effort and cost to put a thief through the watchhouse and then the courts – then the magistrate gives no consequence makes it even a bigger burdon on society footing a cost of stock loss, cost/effort for store employee holding the person awaiting police, paperwork and statements, police, courts, police cars, watchhouse , meal in watchhouse, etc etc … that amounts to “maybe a fine” for the scumbag.

Actually, it’s not unheard of for recidivist shoplifters to get stints in jail.

For a first timer stealing 20 bucks worth of stock, what punishment would you like to see dished out?

This looks like a cool-headed commentary (dressed as a question), but it contains a disingenuous argument because it ignores a huge part of the equation – the impact of a $20 theft is not $20, as most of us are well aware.

If you let a shoplifter get away with a light penalty on the basis of that implied line of argument, you might as well leave the shop door open all night and put a sign on the front saying “Help yourself everybody. Free Goods!” or “First timers’ discount – walkaway prices – Hurry!” When policing breaks down (as we’ve seen in overseas riots), or when penalties and costs are perceived to be small to non-existent compared to incentives, opportunism is the first thing that fills the vacuum.

That is to say, in determining an appropriate penalty, the legislature and court system need to account for not only the impact on the perpetrator and victim of the crime itself, but also the necessity to provide a deterrent signal to society for a public crime, against the public. When there is a lot at stake, the penalties should work to deter people from becoming ‘first timers’, to compete against the large incentives that people seem to think they have, for trying it on.

Many crimes don’t have a specific dollar cost, but carry significant penalties because of what they are and how they damage society or individuals. So the penalty is often just as much about the nature of the crime, its negative overall impact on society’s and individuals’ well-being, and the degree of incentive in society that drives the crime.

Shoplifting is a societal problem that destroys trust, reduces the viability of local businesses that we all rely upon, and necessitates cumbersome and expensive countermeasures that impact on all of us. It’s not just the direct proximal material cost or personal circumstances of the one incident itself that should determine the penalty.

#6
Tooks1:07 pm, 23 Dec 13

AsparagusSyndrome said :

Tooks said :

Persephone said :

What grind my gears is that the police and shop owners collect these scumbags, and the courts let these scumbags go with really no consequences, because they had something traumatic in their childhood like their father wasn’t there or their mothers didn’t give them enough hugs.

It’s all great that sup. Grassick isn’t tolerating anyone stealing, but frankly the effort and cost to put a thief through the watchhouse and then the courts – then the magistrate gives no consequence makes it even a bigger burdon on society footing a cost of stock loss, cost/effort for store employee holding the person awaiting police, paperwork and statements, police, courts, police cars, watchhouse , meal in watchhouse, etc etc … that amounts to “maybe a fine” for the scumbag.

Actually, it’s not unheard of for recidivist shoplifters to get stints in jail.

For a first timer stealing 20 bucks worth of stock, what punishment would you like to see dished out?

This looks like a cool-headed commentary (dressed as a question), but it contains a disingenuous argument because it ignores a huge part of the equation – the impact of a $20 theft is not $20, as most of us are well aware.

If you let a shoplifter get away with a light penalty on the basis of that implied line of argument, you might as well leave the shop door open all night and put a sign on the front saying “Help yourself everybody. Free Goods!” or “First timers’ discount – walkaway prices – Hurry!” When policing breaks down (as we’ve seen in overseas riots), or when penalties and costs are perceived to be small to non-existent compared to incentives, opportunism is the first thing that fills the vacuum.

That is to say, in determining an appropriate penalty, the legislature and court system need to account for not only the impact on the perpetrator and victim of the crime itself, but also the necessity to provide a deterrent signal to society for a public crime, against the public. When there is a lot at stake, the penalties should work to deter people from becoming ‘first timers’, to compete against the large incentives that people seem to think they have, for trying it on.

Many crimes don’t have a specific dollar cost, but carry significant penalties because of what they are and how they damage society or individuals. So the penalty is often just as much about the nature of the crime, its negative overall impact on society’s and individuals’ well-being, and the degree of incentive in society that drives the crime.

Shoplifting is a societal problem that destroys trust, reduces the viability of local businesses that we all rely upon, and necessitates cumbersome and expensive countermeasures that impact on all of us. It’s not just the direct proximal material cost or personal circumstances of the one incident itself that should determine the penalty.

I think you read a bit too much into my comment. The $20 comment was an example of what might be a typical theft. Of course the cost of shoplifting is massive, we all know that.

I was just curious as to what people thought was a fair sentence for minor theft. A weekend in solitary isn’t possible under current legislation nor is it realistic. I’d like to see shops receive compensation and any fine imposed paid to the retailer as well.

#7
Vindalu1:59 pm, 23 Dec 13

Where are the leaky hulks and far flung outposts of empire when you need them?

#8
Deref2:30 pm, 23 Dec 13

Tooks said :

bucks worth of stock, what punishment would you like to see dished out?

The stocks, of course.

“I want to remind people that shoplifting is a crime and the community will not tolerate anyone thinking stealing is acceptable”, said Superintendent Grassick.

This, I think, is the real solution. Undoubtedly these people had simply forgotten that shoplifting is illegal, and this reminder will really do the trick. We know that timely reminders about drink driving and speeding are always effective, so it’s good to see them doing the same for other less well-remembered crimes.

#9
Felix the Cat3:17 pm, 23 Dec 13

Community service would be good. Let them go out and pick up rubbish, or clean some graffitti of a wall or something similar.

#10
Persephone4:21 pm, 23 Dec 13

Here is what I suggest based on what people have suggested, First time offence: community service for 4 weekends (rubbish pickup, graffiti removal etc) and also paying the store owner the cost of what was stolen. Recidivism would hopefully diminish with harsher penalties than just a simple possible fine.

#11
BimboGeek5:29 pm, 23 Dec 13

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

#12
Brianna6:23 pm, 23 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

+1……for the majority, I think this is what it’s about. If any one has worked in the social housing and homelessness areas, people will see this. Yes, it’s stealing. I think the penalties need to fit what was stolen.
I am in no way advocating stealing food is okay but we really do need to look at the problems.

#13
milkman7:51 pm, 23 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

There’s more to the story, unfortunately.

It would be better to do all we can to help people to help themselves.

#14
caf11:29 pm, 23 Dec 13

Tooks said :

I was just curious as to what people thought was a fair sentence for minor theft. A weekend in solitary isn’t possible under current legislation nor is it realistic. I’d like to see shops receive compensation and any fine imposed paid to the retailer as well.

An appropriate sentence would be a fine of about 1.5 times the value of the theft divided by the probability of being caught, so that the expected value of a shoplifting career is strongly negative. Put the right incentives in place and people will generally respond to them.

(For the same reason you wouldn’t want to give the fines to the shop – that would run the risk of creating perverse incentives for the shipowners.)

#15
farnarkler11:12 am, 24 Dec 13

Remember too that the punishment may not reveal itself for many years. I had a mate who worked Friday nights at Coles in Belconnen back in the mid 80′s. He stole a (back then) $1.50 packet of cigarettes and got caught. Obviously he was sacked and got himself a police record. This record came back to bite him on the butt many years later when he was trying to get employment in one of Australia’s intelligence agencies. He got through almost a year of interviews only to be told he would not be employed because of his record. $1.50 cost him a possibly good job. I think a fine and a list of employers who will not employ a person with a police record would be a good punishment.

#16
Elf3:27 pm, 24 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

No. We should be paying them in food stamps so they can’t spend there dole on smokes and grog!

#17
Spiral3:44 pm, 24 Dec 13

Elf said :

BimboGeek said :

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

No. We should be paying them in food stamps so they can’t spend there dole on smokes and grog!

Doesn’t always work. Centrelink has done a similar thing using special debit cards that can only be used to buy food. The problem is that it is difficult to stop the recipients from trading them to other people who give them tobacco and alcohol in return. Of course the value of what they are trading them for is less than the monetary value on the card.

#18
LSWCHP8:26 pm, 24 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

Maybe they need to steal FOOD because they’ve spent all their money on SMOKES and GROG, or because they’re LAZY and have BAD ATTITUDES about other peoples property.

I know the dole isn’t much, but I’d be very, very surprised if anybody in Canberra was lacking in social support to the point where they needed to steal food in order to survive. If that was the case, I’d certainly be very sympathetic but it doesn’t seem likely. This isn’t Dickensian England.

#19
Stevian9:30 am, 25 Dec 13

Vindalu said :

Where are the leaky hulks and far flung outposts of empire when you need them?

We are the far flung outpost of the empire

#20
Stevian9:33 am, 25 Dec 13

Tooks said :

Persephone said :

What grind my gears is that the police and shop owners collect these scumbags, and the courts let these scumbags go with really no consequences, because they had something traumatic in their childhood like their father wasn’t there or their mothers didn’t give them enough hugs.

It’s all great that sup. Grassick isn’t tolerating anyone stealing, but frankly the effort and cost to put a thief through the watchhouse and then the courts – then the magistrate gives no consequence makes it even a bigger burdon on society footing a cost of stock loss, cost/effort for store employee holding the person awaiting police, paperwork and statements, police, courts, police cars, watchhouse , meal in watchhouse, etc etc … that amounts to “maybe a fine” for the scumbag.

Actually, it’s not unheard of for recidivist shoplifters to get stints in jail.

For a first timer stealing 20 bucks worth of stock, what punishment would you like to see dished out?

I’m sure many here would suggest cutting off the offenders hands, despite their supposed dislike of Shariah Law, it seems to be the first thought to enter their febrile minds

#21
BimboGeek9:53 am, 26 Dec 13

I know a very kindly disabled man who doesn’t steal anything. He scavenges his cigarettes from the butts that other people throw away and often people give one or two to him so he doesn’t have to smoke rejects. I’ve given him an entire packet only for him to say he’d save it for later and continue scavenging.

My husband regularly gives free food to people with gambling problems or other mental impairments that basically means they have become tramps. Their problems might be “of their own making” but I don’t see how they are supposed to dig themselves out.

I know junkies who desperately want a job but don’t know how to apply for one and show no signs that they would be reliable or trustworthy. They don’t even have phones so you could call them if nobody else was available.

Don’t blame poor people for being poor. Look at the poor people in your neighbourhood and talk to them. You’ll find they have nothing to hope for or look forward to and that they have serious problems they don’t know how to address.

#22
c_c™3:42 pm, 26 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

I’ve given him an entire packet only for him to say he’d save it for later and continue scavenging.

Or if you really cared you may buy him a pack of Nicobate.

#23
BimboGeek8:15 am, 27 Dec 13

Good call c_c although at the time I was more concerned with the mystery virus he’d caught than taking on the mammoth challenge of trying to change the lifestyle of a brain damaged old man. I guess that’s the problem with poverty, it’s hard to know how to balance short term needs against long-term support. I admire the people working hard on this problem.

#24
Woody Mann-Caruso10:13 am, 27 Dec 13

Don’t blame poor people for being poor.

But then how am I supposed to claim that my current good fortune is entirely down to my brilliant intellect and superior work ethic? I’d have to start thinking about other things, like privilege and coincidence. And then I wouldn’t be able to look down my nose at poor people. It’s a pretty big deal for my self-esteem, you know.

#25
maxblues12:20 pm, 27 Dec 13

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Don’t blame poor people for being poor.

But then how am I supposed to claim that my current good fortune is entirely down to my brilliant intellect and superior work ethic? I’d have to start thinking about other things, like privilege and coincidence. And then I wouldn’t be able to look down my nose at poor people. It’s a pretty big deal for my self-esteem, you know.

Are you saying that it is pure coincidence if anyone who doesn’t come from a privileged background has a crack and makes a success in life? There are many post-war immigrants who came to this country with nothing and are now multi-millionaires. Coincidence, intellect or more likely…work ethic.

#26
Woody Mann-Caruso2:56 pm, 27 Dec 13

Are you saying that it is pure coincidence if anyone who doesn’t come from a privileged background has a crack and makes a success in life?

Yes, that’s exactly what I said, using those precise words. Truly, your skills of comprehension are unmatched in our time, and your response was utterly novel and unexpected. Perhaps we could get the BBC to cancel that Sherlock rubbish and give you your very own show.

#27
maxblues3:50 pm, 27 Dec 13

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Are you saying that it is pure coincidence if anyone who doesn’t come from a privileged background has a crack and makes a success in life?

Yes, that’s exactly what I said, using those precise words. Truly, your skills of comprehension are unmatched in our time, and your response was utterly novel and unexpected. Perhaps we could get the BBC to cancel that Sherlock rubbish and give you your very own show.

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Are you saying that it is pure coincidence if anyone who doesn’t come from a privileged background has a crack and makes a success in life?

Yes, that’s exactly what I said, using those precise words. Truly, your skills of comprehension are unmatched in our time, and your response was utterly novel and unexpected. Perhaps we could get the BBC to cancel that Sherlock rubbish and give you your very own show.

I am not as superior as you mate and you certainly have changed since we last had a beer together.

#28
Woody Mann-Caruso9:12 am, 28 Dec 13

maxblues said :

I am not as superior as you mate and you certainly have changed since we last had a beer together.

Fair cop, and I apologise.

I’ll try again:

(a) There are plenty of immigrants (and locals) who work their arses off and have nothing to show for it through circumstances beyond their control
(b) There are plenty of people, immigrants and otherwise, who do SFA 24/7 and are very well off indeed – see most public service threads on this site ;)
(c) It’s not hard to argue that having a good work ethic is a form of privilege. It came from somewhere – probably cultural, or familial. It almost certainly wasn’t available to somebody whose parents were dole cheats, and/or spent all day stoned, and/or hitting each other and/or hitting their kids.

Our society has built a myth that, with hard work, you can be anything you want to be. No amount of hard work fixes, say, suicidal depression that hits you out of left field, or child abuse, or a gambling addiction, or the death of a spouse, or crippling PTSD. We can’t all be doctors, or lawyers, or astronauts, or win Australian Idol, or hell, even be something as lame as an APS SES. Similarly, no amount of hard work makes you Gina Reinhart.

I suspect there’s something like a shallow bell curve that correlates effort with results. Most people reap what they sow, sort of. However, there are plenty of outliers; it’s a very shallow and slippery slope from the middle (most Aussies are, what, two pay checks from homelessness?), and the less your life resembles white, middle class, suburban and well-adjusted at birth, the noisier and flatter the curve is for you.

At the other end are people like me. I have an amazing job that pays very well. No doubt I’ve got some talent for it, but I was born with that – that is, it’s dumb luck. Ditto the odd series of coincidences that got me where I am as quickly as I did. Yet I’d sooner roll over on the couch and have a nap than get up for the remote control if it falls on the floor.

tl;dr – there but for the grace of the FSM goes I. Most of us are one step away from shoplifting, or living in our cars – and adamantly refusing any form of charity, because all we have left is our wounded pride. Try not to judge others too harshly.

Yes, this includes poor-form Sherlock-based insults.

#29
Woody Mann-Caruso9:13 am, 28 Dec 13

Work ethic didn’t come from nowhere, even.

#30
Tooks3:12 pm, 28 Dec 13

BimboGeek said :

People are stealing FOOD. Are we really doing everything we can to feed the hungry?

Plenty of people steal expensive cuts of meat and trade it for drugs. Has been a pretty popular drug payment plan for a while now. Not saying that everyone who steals food is a drug user of course.

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