Victorian and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy spent time in convenience stores late at night last week to get a first-hand look at their operations – against the background of his Liberal Victoria party’s tough stance on crime in the state, especially that involving P&C stores.

Mr Guy was joined by AACS CEO Jeff Rogut on visits to stores in Melbourne in the early hours of last Friday.

Mr Rogut had laid down the challenge to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews after the state’s Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said there was no crime crisis in Victoria.

Mr Rogut claims convenience-store owners are being targeted weekly – sometimes more frequently – with violent robberies and other crimes.

“Convenience stores play a valuable role in communities everywhere, providing an after-hours service for customers in need,” he said. “But the nature of the industry means that, without an acknowledgement of the current state of crime in Victoria, and with no real deterrents in place, our operators are too often left exposed.

“Mr Guy has pledged his support for additional crime deterrents if the Opposition is elected and spoke of his concern about the escalation of crime in Victoria – and particularly against our industry. The AACS welcomes his support on this critical issue.”

The Opposition has previously said that if it wins office, it will declare petrol theft a crime (as opposed to a civil issue). According to AACS, petrol theft costs the industry about $66 million a year.

“Formally declaring it a crime is important to serve as an additional deterrent,” Mr Rogut said.

“The government seems preoccupied with semantics at the moment and what constitutes a crisis when it comes to crime. Meanwhile, people in our industry are feeling less and less safe when they go to work.

“Zero tolerance to crime is the only option left. The Opposition has shown its intentions in this regard; now we challenge the government to do likewise.”

Extracted from Convenience World.