Retailers call for legislation amid rise in shoplifting in Dublin

Gardaí report 40 per cent increase in recorded shoplifting in inner city Dublin

Retailers  say they do not report most incidents as they tend to involve the theft of small items such as cups of coffee or cans of Coke

Retailers say they do not report most incidents as they tend to involve the theft of small items such as cups of coffee or cans of Coke

 

Retailers are lobbying the Government to introduce tougher penalties for repeat shoplifters as gardaí reported a 40 per cent increase in the activity in inner city Dublin.

A Dublin central Joint Policing Committee was told this week that overall property crime, such as burglaries, car thefts and shoplifting, was up by 8 per cent in the division.

Chief Supt Pat Leahy told the meeting that burglaries and car thefts were down this year but a sharp increase in recorded shoplifting had brought up the total.

He said the apparent increase in shoplifting coincided with a change in the way the crime was recorded.

“Every single incident of shoplifting now is recorded as a crime. Whether it is a lipstick or it is a €400 jacket, it goes in as a crime,” he said.

Growing problem

shoplifting

“From our contact with members, it’s a growing problem,” said the organisation’s director general, Tara Buckley, who put the cost to retailers at about €30,000 a year.

She said the association, which represents about 4,000 shops across the State, has asked Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to introduce legislation for shoplifting similar to the recently announced measures aimed at tackling repeat burglars.

“We got a reply back saying that was to do with the constitutional protection of the family home but we believe there are ways to address this and we will be seeking ways to address this,” Ms Buckley said.

Central Statistics Office figures show 1,772 incidents of shoplifting were reported in the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region North Central Division in the first six months of 2015, compared with 1,143 reports in the same period of 2014.

According to the data, 940 shoplifting offences were recorded in the division in the second quarter of 2015, which was the highest figure for any three- month period across all the Dublin Garda divisions over the past three years.

The figures show 5,342 shoplifting incidents have been recorded across all Dublin Garda divisions in the first half of 2015, compared with 4,260 incidents in the same period last year.

Small items

“If you were to do that for every time you caught somebody, you’d be on the phone to Store Street non-stop,” said John Caulwell, who owns a Spar outlet on O’Connell Street.

Mr Caulwell said he estimates staff at his shop stop about six people a day attempting to steal items.

Another shop owner on Talbot Street reported a similar situation.

“We used to report a lot more of this stuff but nothing ever happens. I’ve gone to court so many times with guys, but nothing ever happens up there,” he said.

A Garda Inspectorate report last year found 8.5 per cent of crimes recorded on the Pulse system were reclassified over a period from January 2011 to May 2012.

In 83 per cent of those cases, reclassification resulted in a crime, particularly burglary and robbery, moving to a less serious offence.

A number of incidents were also moved from “attention and complaints” to crime categories.