Reforms to crack down on repeat stealing 

Premier Roger Cook said his government was standing up for small business owners and their hard-working staff.
February 29, 2024

REPEAT offenders charged with low level stealing offences will now face jail time, with the state government set to expand the range of sentencing options available to the courts.

The reform follows increased penalties for assaults on retail workers announced last week.

As the law currently stands, where a person is charged with stealing an item valued at $1,000 or less, and dealt with in the Magistrates Court, a ‘fine only’ penalty of $6,000 applies.

The other sentencing options available to the court are a suspended fine, conditional release order, or community-based order. A term of imprisonment cannot be imposed, regardless of the circumstances of the offence or the person, including previous offences.

The reforms remove the ‘fine only’ penalty limit where a person is convicted of a stealing offence, or an attempted stealing offence, and has two or more prior convictions for a stealing offence in the past 12 months.

These repeat offenders will instead be subject to the higher maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and $24,000 when dealt with summarily, providing more effective deterrence and opening up the full range of possible sentencing options to the court, including a potential term of imprisonment.

Premier Roger Cook said his government was standing up for small business owners, many of whom are families, as well as their hard-working staff who’ve quite rightly had enough.

“Serial shoplifters shouldn’t be allowed to snub their nose at the law and that is why my government is taking action.

“This new crackdown specifically targets repeat offenders who simply refuse to respect the community and the courts.

“This common-sense sentencing option will send a clear message to those criminals who think they are above the law.”

Attorney General John Quigley said the ‘fine only’ penalty for low level stealing offences was well known in the community and did not provide a sufficient deterrent for would-be offenders.

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