Lygon St retailers tough it out

Lygon St retailers tough it out
Rhonda Dredge

Retailers along Lygon St’s prime fashion strip have come out in favour of the City of Melbourne’s push to install CCTV cameras, speaking of daring shoplifting raids. 

Last month the council announced it would be seeking funding from the state government to install seven cameras on the street.

Retailers say the Faraday St intersection is a particular problem, resulting in security guards being hired to protect two shops.

“It’s quite daunting really, down the street,” said Joanne Traverso, long-term manager of Digby’s high-end fashion boutique. “There’s a lot of smash and grab.”

Two stores, Seed and Mecca Cosmetica, had been particularly targeted, she said, and hired security guards six months ago.

Seed sales staff confirmed the problem. “It’s quite scary. It happens really fast,” said casual staff member Emily Dungan. 

“You can’t do anything about it. They just come so fast to the table to take things.”

There’s a table close to the door of the Seed fashion boutique where sale items are displayed and until a guard was employed staff were powerless to stop the thieving.

“Now we’ve got security it’s been pretty chilled since then,” a staff assistant at Mecca Cosmetica told Inner City News. She lives nearby and did not want to be identified.

Mecca Cosmetica is on the north-east corner of the problem intersection. Diagonally across is Coffee Machine Technologies where manager Carmelo Corallo supports the CCTV initiative but is wary about its effectiveness.

“When we first moved into the area there were a few people with light fingers,” he said. “Small items went missing.”

He said there are pluses and minuses about CCTV. “Is it going to be used for security purposes? Is it going to be on 24/7 or only when we make a complaint? Who’s going to monitor it?”

“I think it deters people and from a personal point of view can give reassurance, but most people cover their face. How far do you go?”

“In the UK you have a camera on every corner. What’s their crime like? I’m not personally scared but some people are troubled.”

He said his main concern was whether he’d be able to access the footage if someone shoplifted parts out of his store.

Neither Digby’s nor Coffee Machine Technologies have employed security guards and their staff have been forced to tough it out. Digby’s was pumping when Inner City visited. 

“I’ve been here for 31 years,” Ms Traverso said. “That’s three life sentences for murder!”

Melbourne West Local Area Commander Acting Inspector Gary Best said Melbourne North police ran regular operations and highly visible patrols of the Carlton area “to not only detect offences but deter them before they occur”.

“Plain-clothes police from the Melbourne Divisional Response Unit also run targeted enforcement operations in the area to apprehend offenders and put them before a court,” he said.

“Police work closely with the City of Melbourne and local retailers to collaborate on community safety issues and crime prevention initiatives.”Crime Statistics Agency data showed there had been a seven per cent decrease in thefts from retail stores in the Carlton area year-on-year. •

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