The group of up to 15 males stole headphones and other electronic equipment from Officeworks stores in the southeast suburbs of Chadstone, South Yarra, Carnegie and Highett on Saturday night.
Police inspector David Griffin says the gang was targeting Beats by Dre headphones, worth up to $400 a pair, and warned other retailers to be vigilant.
“It’s certainly a message to Officeworks stores and other retail stores that stock this equipment that they might like to tighten their security,” Insp Griffin said on Monday.
Describing Saturday night’s thefts as “brazen”, Insp Griffin said the teens didn’t seem to be worried about being caught, but they would feel the full force of the law.
“We are confident we can identify who these people are,” he said.
Insp Griffin said the teens, all of African descent, seemed quite young and possibly travelled between the heists via public transport.
Witnesses told 3AW that the group walked the aisles, grabbing items at will before leaving the store cheering and lifting the items they’d stolen above their heads.
Officeworks confirmed their stores had been targeted but did not say which stores were involved.
“No Officeworks team members or customers were harmed and all affected stores remain open today with a heightened level of security,” a spokesman said in a statement on Monday.
“As the incidents are currently under police investigation we are unable to provide further comment at this time.”
Ahead of the busiest time of year for retailers during Christmas trade, crowded retail environments present a prime opportunity for thieves who can take advantage distracted sales staff, with retailers warned to be on alert.
“While bolstering staff numbers and providing additional training can keep shoplifters on their toes, there is no better deterrent than having visible security technology, such as electronic article surveillance tags and security cameras in place to protect stock from walking out the door,” said Michael Day, national retail manager, Tyco Retail Solutions.
Day also said it was important to identify the merchandise “most prone to shoplifting” and put the appropriate protective measures in place.
He also noted it’s important that staff react to every alarm “as this will send a message to customers that the store takes security seriously.”
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