'It just seems to be free for all': Fed up with thieves
IAN KINSEY doesn't know if he can keep trading as thieves continue to steal goods from his business.
Mr Kinsey owns Spar on Fitzroy St in Rockhampton, which he developed and opened in late 2015.
He also owns another Spar and a pharmacy in Blackall, where he is working as a pharmacist, "so he can keep the people employed in Rockhampton and Blackall”.
He said it was getting very hard to make a living when so many people were thieving all the time. Both supermarket stores support 30 staff and "it is just becoming impossible to keep going”, he said.
Between the drought in Blackall, Rockhampton's "suppressed economy” and the rampant thieving, Mr Kinsey doesn't know what to do.
"This is just one part. I had the other day a staff member stealing too,” he said.
"You just can't win in small business ... it's a never-ending battle trying to stay afloat, paying wages and all the other things.
"You just can't continue on with the amount of thieving.”
The Rockhampton store does have high-definition CCTV cameras that capture footage of the thieves.
The photos are passed on to police, and they are put up so if the offenders come back they can be asked to leave.
But it's not a solution to the problem because it only seems to be getting worse.
This week, a man and an accomplice allegedly put three packets of bacon down the man's pants and walked out while a staff member was serving another customer and couldn't stop them.
Having to keep an eye out for thieves is becoming a full-time job for staff.
"It just ties people up. We can't have staff following people around all the time,” Mr Kinsey said.
"We have video there but we can't have people sitting there watching it.”
With the amount of stock being lost, Mr Kinsey is questioning the viability of his business.
Mr Kinsey is sure it wouldn't only be his business that is hurting. Along with other grocery stores, any businesses with small items are targets as well.
He is calling on like-minded business owners to band with him and combine ideas and strategies of ways they can combat the problem.
"It just seems to be free for all,” Mr Kinsey said.
"It's getting worse and it doesn't seem anyone is addressing it.”
By no means is Mr Kinsey blaming police - he is praising them for their good work and does not expect them to come speeding up to his business for a break-in because by the time they get there, the offenders have left.
Customers could help the problem by alerting staff if they see anything suspicious going on.
"If we know the time, we can pick it up and follow it up,” Mr Kinsey said.
"If we can get the customers to become our security guys (it might help).”
For now, he doesn't know what his future entails.
He may be forced to put up prices to counteract his losses from thieving.
"We have a lot of customers that appreciate Spar and the employees, but we just can't continue like this because it's not giving us a return ... if we can't get a handle on this,” he said.
"The good customers are ultimately the ones who suffer.”