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Liquor Stores Association slams Cook Government’s beefed-up shoplifting penalties for not going far enough

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Josh ZimmermanThe West Australian
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Liquor Stores Association chief executive Peter Peck.
Camera IconLiquor Stores Association chief executive Peter Peck. Credit: Halim Mellick/The West Australian

The liquor lobby has slammed beefed up penalties targeting shoplifters for failing to go far enough, questioning why magistrates have only been empowered to jail thieves after their third offence.

The strengthened laws – introduced to Parliament by Attorney General John Quigley on Thursday – increase the maximum penalty for prolific low-level thieves from a $6000 fine to up to two years in prison.

However, magistrates will only be permitted to consider jail terms following the third offence in a 12-month period.

Liquor Stores Association chief executive Peter Peck said it was disappointing shoplifters were being given three strikes before potentially being imprisoned.

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“These repeat offenders need to have consequences after committing their first offence,” Mr Peck said.

“I don’t see why we drag it out and try to scare them with jail time after their third.

“We commend the Government on widening the scope to apply stronger penalties but we would like to see tougher action taken at the first time when offenders appear in court.

“If the government wants to change people’s behaviour and protect small business there needs to be a plan in place, whether it be involuntary counselling or involuntary rehabilitation to ensure offenders are cognisant of their actions and the consequences that follow.”

The toughened penalties follow the high-profile case of Nicholas Terrence Mark Rodd, 39, who attracted headlines for his frequent appearances before various Magistrates courts on charges of stealing from bottle shops.

The court was told Rodd, an alcohol addict, had racked up more than $20,000 in fines and a criminal history spanning 66 pages.

Currently, theft of items valued at below $1000 is punishable only by a fine – a penalty Rodd brazenly told reporters was not enough to prevent him from reoffending.

WA Premier Roger Cook speaks during a press conference at Parliament House to announce the introduction of gun reform laws to Parliament
Camera IconPremier Roger Cook. Credit: Halim Mellick/The West Australian

Premier Roger Cook told Parliament on Thursday the threat of jail time was specifically designed to deter repeat offenders.

“I want to be clear this does not apply to someone who makes a bad decision in their lives,” Mr Cook said.

“The crackdown targets serial shoplifters.”

The new laws – which also quadruple the maximum fine to $24,000 – were welcomed by the National Retail Association’s Retail Crime Committee.

Acting NRA chief executive Lindsay Carroll said the group had lobbied WA Police to highlight the need for stronger deterrents for petty thieves.

“The proposed reforms target low value, high frequency offending which plague a significant section of the retail sector,” Ms Carroll said.

“We continue to encourage the industry to incentivise reporting to authorities to provide meaningful intelligence to police to ensure these new and existing measures can be as effective as possible.”

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