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Shoplifters beware



SHOPLIFTERS be warned: if you're thinking of plying your trade at Fishing Tackle Australia, you'll now be captured on candid camera.

The owner of the multi-million dollar Coffs Harbour business, Reg Coutts-Smith, has just spent $50,000 installing a closed-circuit television (CCTV) security system to deter thieves.

It boasts 32 surveillance cameras ? with a capacity for another 16 ? which will record all movements inside and outside the store and the adjoining camping shop around-the-clock.

Each camera has a movement detector and the system also includes seven monitors. Footage can be stored for a month at a time and can be either cleared or downloaded.

"One of the reasons I've had it connected to the internet is so that my mother, who is ill in Melbourne, can see footage of the shop," Mr Coutts-Smith said.

"The aim of the system is to detect shoplifting, break-ins and anyone who puts in a false claim for tripping over.

"I think a lot of people will stop shoplifting because they're being recorded.

"Just before I had the system installed, $1000 worth of reels were stolen. And a month or two ago, a guy came in and used his daughters to distract us while he stole stuff.

"Shoplifting has been a big problem for us over the years, as it is everywhere.

"I could buy a couple of houses with the amount of money I've lost, for sure.

"The beauty of this system is that you can see everyone who enters and leaves the store."

Mr Coutts-Smith is confident the system will pay for itself, considering the good results he had in the first three days.

"Within 10 minutes of its installation we caught someone shoplifting. We rang the police and they came and grabbed them," he said.

"That was all recorded. Since then, we've seen people spotting the cameras and walking out.

"It's worth every penny. Anybody that doesn't install a security system is crazy."

With more than 1000 different reels, more than 5000 rods and about a million lures he has to protect, Mr Coutts-Smith reckons he's on a winner with his latest investment.

SNP Security, which installed the system at Fishing Tackle Australia, has been fielding calls from many firms throughout the district who are keen to protect their businesses from thieves.

The chances of police tracking down offenders were 'enhanced considerably' with CCTV, Coffs/Clarence crime manager, Detective Chief Inspector Jason Breton said.

"In the past three years, we've had a very high ratio of arrests when CCTV has been installed," Mr Breton said.

"The evidence from these cameras speaks for itself. We've seen an extremely high ratio of convictions where these cameras have been used."



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