The following trends in retail crime have been witnessed by Brisbane retailers over the past few weeks, as relayed across the National Retail Association’s SafeCity Network.

COVID-19 Related Crime

Retailers reported an increase in customers becoming aggressive towards staff due to social distancing measures put in place for their safety, deliberately disrespecting the health of others and contravening imposed product limits.

  • Retailers have reported commonly shoplifted items include toilet rolls, canned foods, puzzles, cleaning products and hand sanitiser.
  • Some customers have become aggressive towards staff expressing frustration with implemented cashless transactions.
  • One retailer reported being spat at. The staff member called the police beat but there was no answer.
  • A retailer reported two young females entering the store and pretending to cough and a customer became aggressive towards the females.

Drug use

Retailers have reported a noticeable increase in presence of individuals that appear to be drug or alcohol affected.

  • One retailer reported witnessing two individuals consuming hard drugs in their loading dock. The individuals had left by the time police responded 40 minutes later.
  • A group of young males assaulted a security guard and stole Rexona cans. Staff assume this was for chroming purposes (the act of inhaling household chemicals and other volatile substances to get high).
  • Many retailers have established a store policy to never approach shoplifters potentially under the influence of drugs as it is not worth the risk to their safety.


Retailers have reported a greater congregation of homeless and vagrant youths and an increase in individuals loitering in places they previously weren’t.

  • Retailers have reported an increase in individuals who appear to be sleeping rough shoplifting, loitering and becoming aggressive. One retailer commented that homeless often rely on office workers for change to purchase food, now they are shoplifting. Staff will not approach them as they need access to essential items.
  • One retailer was unable to open his store due to about 20 individuals sleeping and loitering across their front entrance and side alley.
  • One store reported a panicked member of the public entering their store seeking refuge after they were stalked and harassed by a reportedly homeless person. The woman was so distressed that a staff member drove her home.

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.