Woolworths cracks down on shoplifting with controversial new security measures

Aug 17, 2023
Sensors and automatic gates are being trialled as new security measures to combat shoplifting. Source: Getty

Australians frequenting Woolworths might soon face a different shopping experience, as the supermarket giant escalates its security protocols to tackle the surge of shoplifting activity.

The supermarket chain is trialling new security tech including rooftop sensors and automatic gates at its self-service checkouts.

As shoppers enter the self-serve checkout area, the sensors will recognise their presence and assign them a digital ID. This ID will initially be marked in red and turns green once the customers have finished their checkout payments. Once green, the gates will automatically open and customers will be able to walk out.

If the sensor detects a shopper is either attempting to skip a payment or trying to leave without completing the payment process, the gates will remain closed and block them from exiting.

The new security tech is currently being trialled in Fairfield, West Sydney, with stores in Wentworthville and Randwick Metro in NSW, along with stores in Moorabbin, Millers Junction and Woodgrove in Victoria expected to follow suit.

The new beefed-up security measures are expected to be rolled out across all Woolworth stores in Australia in the hopes of preventing shoplifting. Source: Getty

Earlier this year, government statistics showed that retail theft in Australia had reached record levels, increasing by more than 38 per cent over the last two years.

A retail worker in Victoria had told 9News that she fears supermarkets are no longer “safe” as shoplifting is “getting worse”, saying that she believes the increasing cost of living is influencing the trend.

“You get good people that are doing silly things,” she said.

“Some people are too proud to ask for money and then they steal and it’s really sad.”

Australian Retailers Association chief industry affairs officer Fleur Brown had previously told 9News that stopping retail theft was their top priority.

“We have seen a steady increase,” she said.

“We are very conscious of the impact on their staff, mental health impacts, stress, there’s apprehension about attacks and you know, this kind of increase in theft.

“It’s also having a significant impact on their bottom line.”

A survey from Finder found that 1 in 5 Australians have stolen staple items in the past 12 months.

“A lot of people are doing it tough as the cost of essentials like petrol, rent and energy have risen sharply,” explained Finder money expert, Richard Whitten.

“The result is a growing subset of Australians who are stealing consumables to survive.”

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