Police powers give instant fines to shoplifters

Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Law and Order

Police should be given the option to hand out on-the-spot fines to shoplifters, says New Zealand First.

A member’s bill submitted to the ballot today by Law and Order Spokesperson Darroch Ball seeks to curb the ‘shoplifting epidemic’, which amounts to 86 percent of all retail crime and cost retailers over $1 billion last year.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by Retail NZ and Otago University, retailers didn’t report 68 percent of shoplifting offences because they expected “no response, or such a minimal response, that it would not be worthwhile to report”.

“Currently, any formal prosecutions for shoplifting are time-consuming and costly as they must go before the courts, where the only punishments available are either custodial sentences or fines handed down by a judge,” Mr Ball says.

“This bill shortcuts the litany of red tape, going straight to a scheme of proportional fines. It also sends the clear message that offenders will not get away with it.”

The proposal defines the offence of ‘shoplifting’ as the theft of retail goods with a value of under $1000. Police would have the power to hand out a minimum $150 instant fine or a fine of “one and a half times” the value of the goods stolen, whichever is greatest. 

The bill only allows this infringement process to occur twice. A third or subsequent offence would be prosecuted in court.

The infringement scheme is a practical response to an escalating problem which is often a gateway crime leading on to more serious offending. This bill will deter offending, free up the police and courts, and hold shoplifters to account.

The bill can be viewed at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/proposed-members-bills/document/52HOH_MEMBILL120_1/shoplifting-offence-and-penalties-bill



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