Victoria Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has reiterated his intention to treat petrol theft as a crime.
He’s doing so, he says, in recognition that the community deserves a stronger response to robbery.
The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has applauded his stance. It claims politicians are finally “embracing the zero-tolerance approach to crime that the AACS has consistently called for”.
AACS CEO Jeff Rogut said, “Petrol theft is the obvious starting point for a zero-tolerance approach because it is blatant stealing, which is an offence in anyone’s book.
“But if the recent spike in crimes committed against convenience stores has demonstrated anything, it’s that the community demands stronger sanctions and punishments for criminals.
“The spate of violent convenience-store robberies in recent times has fuelled wider unrest in the community. For those of us in the industry, to be targeted in this way has always been unacceptable. But now society as a whole is alert to the issue and is demanding tougher action against criminals.
“The time is now for government, law enforcement and the judicial system to align and get tough when it comes to legislating, investigating and sentencing those caught robbing convenience stores and other small businesses. The community demands it.”
Driven by illicit tobacco?
Equally important, says Mr Rogut, is understanding what’s driving this spike in criminal activity and disrupting it at source.
“Illicit tobacco, and the regulatory environment in Australia that has contributed to this black market’s unprecedented growth, is the most significant area requiring reform,” he said.
“Violent robberies committed against convenience stores invariably target the cigarette cabinet. The huge excise payable on legal tobacco makes these products an irresistible target for thieves.”
The AACS has called for an immediate end to all future legal tobacco-excise increases. It claims this is the only way to cap demand for illicit tobacco and eliminate it from the market.