Woolworths responds after accusatory anti-theft sign appears in store entrance

The latest apparent anti-theft measure at one Sydney store was swiftly removed after enquiries from Yahoo.

A sign banning schools at a Sydney Woolworths store, which was swiftly removed after Yahoo enquiries.
Woolworths has removed a sign banning school bags between certain times in the day. Source: Reddit

Woolworths has removed a sign that was placed at the entrance gates of one store, banning school bags between certain hours of the day. With rates of shoplifting continuing to rise across the country, retailers have been forced to take drastic action to combat the escalating trend, which costs Australian businesses an estimated $9 billion per year.

The nation's biggest supermarkets are certainly no exception with one Sydney Woolworths branch seemingly taking its anti-theft measures too far, erecting a sign prohibiting school bags, only for it to be removed after it was questioned by the public.

A shopper posted a photo of the sign online, which appears to have been informally printed and laminated by a staff member at the store, with many wondering how the ban would logistically work.

New anti-theft gates at a Woolworths supermarket, as shoplifting around the country continues to soar.
Woolworths has in recent times installed a raft of new anti-theft measures in supermarkets across the country. Source: Woolworths

"Are Woolworths going to take responsibility for stolen items from the bags [left behind]?" one confused person commented.

"I think this strategy is dumb because staff don't get paid enough to enforce this," another said.

One parent warned there was "no way in hell my son's leaving his bag with expensive laptop unattended at the door", with another "not convinced they can actually" enforce the ban. "They can have a policy of ‘no bags’, but ‘no school bags’ gets you into indirect age discrimination territory," they argued.

After being questioned by Yahoo News Australia, a Woolworths spokesperson confirmed the sign was swiftly removed following enquiries.

"There has been no change to our policy regarding school bags in our stores. The sign has been removed from the store," the spokesperson told Yahoo. Woolworths would not respond directly to questions about what prompted the sign.

In NSW, since October 2021, retail theft offences have been steadily increasing and were up by 47.5 per cent last year, according to the state's Department of Communities and Justice. Countrywide, it's believed that only 20 per cent of retail crimes are ever even reported to police, the National Retail Association says.

A man in seen in a supermarket stuffing a product under his shirt in bid to shoplift,
People have been caught all over the country in recent months shoplifting from supermarkets. Source: 7News

In South Australia, police revealed just last week that shoplifting in the state was spiralling, with theft rising by 30 per cent in a year — a "trend that is expected to continue". There were 1,455 shoplifting offences in March alone, with retailers in August warned that the trend was drifting beyond control.

Earlier today, Yahoo reported on an Adelaide couple's elaborate alleged shoplifting technique, involving a trolley switch-up and a large gift-wrapped present, demonstrating the bizarre lengths some Australians are going to in order to rip off retailers.

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