Coles Is Rolling Out Body Cams To Catch Shoplifters Instead Of Just, IDK, Lowering Prices?

coles body cams

If the cost of living crisis has left you with no choice but to skim items through the self checkout or shoplift by some other equally sneaky means, watch out: Coles is rolling out body cams, police style, for their staff to wear in order to catch thieves.

The cameras will be clipped to staff’s shirts and will have the ability to record and send live footage back to managers if requested. These types of cameras are common for police officers, security guards and bouncers. What does it say about our society that we will now be fitting them onto grocery clerks, too?

The devices will be rolled out in 30 “problem” stores in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia which have a high risk of thieving. I would love to see the data on whether these stores are also locations in low socio-economic areas where people are a) more likely to be suffering financially which in turn would make them b) more likely to be surveilled in general.

Coles says the body cams will also be used to prevent abuse towards staff from customers. While protecting staff from violence should absolutely be a priority, Coles didn’t seem to shed any light on *why* body cams would be any more effective than the CCTV already in place in stores, or acknowledge *why* people become aggressive in the first place.

“It’s important to note that the majority of customers do the right thing in store. Measures like this are for the ones who don’t,” a Coles spokesperson told

“The safety of our team members and customers is our top priority, and we have a range of security measures in place to reduce theft from our stores, including security personnel and surveillance technologies such as CCTV.”

The move comes after a dramatic increase in shoplifting, a rise which should surprise absolutely no one given the deeply unethical hikes in prices we’ve seen from supermarkets that absolutely do not *have* to raise their prices as much as they do. Lord knows those profits aren’t going to these corporations’ chronically underpaid minimum wage workers.

You’d think the solution to preventing an increase in shoplifting during a time where people are suffering immensely — often choosing between a nutritious dinner, rent, or petrol — would be ignoring the pull of profits and keeping groceries affordable, but for Coles the answer is more surveillance.

“Let’s think about why are we seeing increases in people shoplifting? Why are people being aggressive towards staff? People are struggling,” Dr Monique Mann, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University and Vice-Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, told

“At the same time, Coles and Woolworths are recording massive (in excess of a billion dollars) profits amidst a cost of living crisis. Maybe they should think about that and try to alleviate cost of living pressures that rather than just expand surveillance and their profits.”

Coles raked in $1.1 billion last year, a nearly 5 per cent rise in full year annual profit, while we literally could not afford lettuce or broccoli, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for the company amid all the alleged shoplifting. Mind you, this was $1 billion even after all the money apparently lost from shoplifting.

According to this Guardian Australia report, Coles used the pandemic and inflation to profit from sales, expanding its supermarket profit margins. Which is probably how the company can justify rolling out high-tech body cams for its minimum-wage staff that it owes hundreds of millions to after some pretty cooked wage theft.

Let’s focus on that kind of stealing first, shall we? Because if we’re about to compare sins here, I’m pretty sure stealing millions from workers is worse than shoplifting a roasted chook.