Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) CEO Jeff Rogut has challenged Victorian premier Daniel Andrews after Victorian Police commissioner Graham Ashton returned from leave to declare there was no crime crisis in Victoria.
“Convenience store owners are being targeted on a weekly basis – sometimes more – by violent robberies and other crimes,” said AACS in a statement.
Rogut and opposition leader Matthew Guy have visited AA Stores in Melbourne in the early hours of Friday morning to get a first hand look at what happens.
“Convenience stores play a valuable role in communities everywhere, providing an after hours service for customers in need. But the nature of the industry means that, without an acknowledgement of the current state of crime in Victoria, and with no real deterrents in place, our operators are too often left exposed,” Rogut said.
“Guy has pledged his support for additional crime deterrents if the Opposition is elected and spoke of his concern about the escalation of crime in Victoria – and particularly against our industry. The AACS welcomes his support on this critical issue.
“The Opposition has previously declared that, if they win office, they will declare petrol theft a crime. Petrol theft costs our industry approximately $66 million annually and formally declaring it a crime is important to serve as an additional deterrent. On the other hand, the Government has been silent on this issue. The time for action is now and turning a blind eye to this issue is no longer acceptable.”
Aside from violent robberies and petrol theft, Rogut also highlighted the illicit tobacco market as a major crime impacting the sector. Illicit tobacco robs honest retailers of legal tobacco sales, but it also floods the community with non-compliant cigarettes.
“The Government seems pre-occupied with semantics at the moment, and what constitutes a crisis when it comes to crime. Meanwhile, people in our industry are feeling less and less safe when they go to work,” Rogut said. “Zero tolerance to crime is the only option left. The Opposition has shown its intentions in this regard, now we challenge the Government to do likewise.”