Retail workers are doubling as security guards as the criminal element in the city becomes increasingly brazen.
A survey of shop managers this week revealed widespread anxiety about aggressive shoplifters and a desire for more police on the streets.
A frequently targeted store is a surf shop near Forrest Chase. When _The Weekend West _ arrived at the store, a male employee was using a full-length mirror to keep his eye on a known shoplifter sitting outside.
He said shoplifting happened every day and sometimes escalated into threats or even violence.
"This is crazy. I'm not a security guard," he said.
At nearby Plaza Arcade, a security guard was hired recently in an attempt to reduce theft and violence.
Ami Azman, 21, who runs three clothing stores in the arcade, said the thieves worked in packs and often became angry when queried.
"One person distracts the worker and then they spread out so you can't keep an eye on all of them," she said.
Zoe Hastie, 25, acting manager of Surf Sports Underground, said she was surprised how few police officers she saw in the city.
"Even if they just did laps, that would be great," she said.
Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has requested a meeting with Police Minister Liza Harvey to discuss policing in the CBD.