Thieves snared in Coffs operation

A SURGE in five-finger discounts on the Coffs Coast has forced one retail chain to go undercover.

Woolworths dispatched two quaintly named ‘Loss Prevention Officers’ to Coffs Harbour this week to catch shoplifters and they had stunning results.

One of those caught was allegedly an employee who has since been charged by police.

The covert store security operation at Woolworths supermarkets at Park Beach Plaza, Centro Toormina and Park Avenue on Wednesday and Thursday snared as many as 10 shoplifters – five men and five women.

They had stolen a grand total of almost $700 worth of merchandise including cosmetics, sweets and lollies and meat.

The biggest haul of shoplifters by far was at the Park Beach Plaza supermarket where eight were apprehended with more than $150 in goods. The other two offenders were caught at Centro Toormina with a whopping $520 worth of groceries.

Police are also making inquiries about another man stealing from other stores at the Plaza.

A Woolworths spokeswoman said the undercover officers would watch the shoppers conceal the items and leave the store without paying and then pounce on them.

Police were called on each occasion to deal with the lawbreakers. Some were issued with criminal infringement notices and others were charged and ordered to appear before Coffs Harbour Local Court.

“We are very happy with the results,” the Woolworths spokeswoman said.

“We have noticed quite a lot of shoplifting in the Coffs Harbour area recently and it has been on the increase during the last six months.

“Woolworths will be conducting these operations on a regular basis in the area in conjunction with other retail outlets.”

Shoplifting costs Australian businesses a staggering $6 billion a year.

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