Move over Bitcoin – tobacco is fast becoming the new criminal currency.

With the ever-increasing cost of tobacco in Australia criminals are now targeting tobacco for their illicit activities.  Unfortunately, this means supermarkets and liquor stores are high on the criminal’s radar for potential robberies.

In January this year The Australian newspaper confirmed the ATO estimates that black market tobacco accounts for approximately $600m a year in lost excise revenue, which equates to 30,000,000 cigarette packs annually. 

Susan Black, commander of special investigations at the Australian Border Force, said: “Tobacco is one of the highest-taxed commodities in Australia and across the world. It’s currently taxed at $0.81 per stick, and by 2020 that will go up by another 12%.”  This will only add further fuel to the black-market tobacco trade in Australia.

Unfortunately, when supermarkets or liquor stores are targeted by criminals the results can be frightening and the repair costs significant.  We have seen serious property damage caused by smash and grabs, in some cases the property damage and the loss of income has been a higher loss for the business than the value of the cigarettes stolen.  In the unfortunate event of an aggravated robbery staff can be left with long lasting mental and/or physical injuries.

Insurers have seen an alarming spike in tobacco related claims against supermarkets and liquor store in the past few year and they expect this trend to increase moving forward.  The main losses include stolen tobacco stock, the cost of repairing property damaged such as a  car has been used as a battering ram to gain access, as well as cover provided for loss of revenue for any down time experienced.  There are several cases where business owners have experienced multiple robberies as criminals identify them as easy targets.

Here are 10 tips stores can implement to minimise their risk moving forward:

  1. Review the value of tobacco kept on premises
  2. Consider lower tobacco stock values with more frequent deliveries
  3. Install bollards at all entry points, including any side and back doors
  4. Move to portable tobacco cabinets which can be moved to strong rooms overnight 
  5. Additional tobacco stock always stored in strong room
  6. Strong room need to be purposely built for security – not just a locked storeroom
  7. Limit the number of staff who have knowledge of, or access to, the strong room
  8. Confidentiality agreements for staff with access to strong room
  9.  CCTV, visible security signage, motion sensors alarms, all with back to base monitoring
  10. Internal and External pull-down gates or shutters for exposed areas

Adroit Insurance & Risk is the MGA’s recommend insurance advisor for members.  We understand the risks you face and we have tailored products to give you the right protection all at exclusive member prices. 

Call us today to find out more.  

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