IGA Supermarket Owner Uses Facebook to Shame and Stop Shoplifters

In the quiet town of Dubbo, a supermarket owner has taken a bold stand against shoplifters, using social media to seek justice. Ben Ashcroft, owner of Ashcroft IGA, has turned his store’s Facebook page into a powerful tool to deter thieves, leading to some remarkable outcomes.

Ashcroft IGA, with thousands of online followers, has become famous for its fierce and humorous takedowns of shoplifters. Ben Ashcroft describes this approach as “instantly effective,” shaming petty criminals into either staying away or making overdue payments.

Recently, the store shared dramatic CCTV footage of a staff member leaping over the counter to chase a thief from the bottle shop onto the street. The staff member’s swift actions, capturing the thief in the car park, earned him praise from locals who suggested he deserved a raise. The video, set to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” was captioned with “Ready. Set. GO……… Reaction time 0.02 seconds.”

In another instance, a man was caught on camera stuffing beer bottles down his pants, leading to a cheeky caption: “Who’s this goofball? He must have a lot of spare room down there to fit two long necks.” The page, followed by over 2800 people, regularly pokes fun at those caught on camera, with locals often identifying the culprits.

One post highlighted a man wearing a knock-off rugby league polo with the misspelled name “Sedney Roosters,” captioned: “Anyone know this grub? Spent more money on lip rings and bad tattoos than he spent in store.” Another post from December read: “Tis the season of giving. Some freshly printed banning notices to hand out.”

The idea for the page grew from a staff Snapchat chain meant to alert workers about known shoplifters. “We’ve got really good cameras, so we used to film the shoplifters,” Ashcroft explained. “It was more just awareness for staff.”

Frustrated by the lenient penalties handed out by the courts and the repeat offenders, Ashcroft decided to go public. “I thought, ‘They don’t know that we know,’” he said. “I thought I’d put a couple on Facebook to say, ‘We know you’ve stolen.’ It worked instantly.”

Parents began bringing their children to the store to pay for stolen items, and others came forward to settle their debts after being shamed online. Ashcroft, whose family owns supermarkets in other regional NSW towns, writes the captions himself, admitting, “That’s why there are so many spelling mistakes.”

Ashcroft understands that the offences shoplifters are charged with don’t carry severe penalties and doesn’t blame local police for the reoffending. “This is just chocolate and junk food they’re stealing. It’s not essential items,” he said. However, he emphasised the importance of protecting his business, noting that people struggling financially can always ask for help.

The success of the Facebook page, according to Ashcroft, is due to the strong sense of community among customers and staff who are dedicated to the business. “The staff feel like a little team,” he said. “They all know the business has got to work. We have an incredible team.”

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