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Methods of Investigation of Retail Crime (From Retailers as Victims of Crime - Proceedings, P 63-70, 1983, C R Bevan, ed. - See NCJ-92065)

NCJ Number
J Carroll
Date Published
This discussion of methods of investigating retail crime in New South Wales (Australia) considers proofs of larceny, the professional shoplifter, possible motives, identification of suspects, and an approach to prevention.
Shoplifting can generally be considered larceny as defined under Section 117 of the Crimes Act 1900. Proofs required to substantiate a charge of larceny are that the accused took and carried away the personal goods of another, with the felonious intent to convert them to his/her own use and to make them permanently his/her own property without the consent of the true owner. In the retail store, there is an implied permission for customers to select, examine and handle, and try on goods on display; therefore, to establish the intent to take and carry away, it is necessary to produce evidence that the offender actually removed the goods from the store without paying for them. In other instances, the intent of the offender may be shown by overt acts. The method of investigating shoplifting in New South Wales is basically on-the-spot detection either by trained security staff employed by retail stores or by police officers. Routine shoplifting offenses are generally handled by uniformed officers. When professional shoplifters are involved, detectives usually investigate. In an effort to counter the activities of professional shoplifters, security officers at various retail stores have formed an information network that permits the sharing of information helpful in addressing shoplifting. The police pass on identification photos of the professional shoplifters considered to be the most active in New South Wales. An effective approach to preventing shoplifting should aim at making the various steps required to complete a shoplifting offense as difficult as possible. Stores should record the serial numbers of stock items so as to facilitate recovery. Data are provided on shoplifting in New South Wales for 1981.