Owner of Brisbane business EzyMart claims he is the target of violent shoplifters

As shoppers begin to return to Brisbane’s CBD after the COVID-19 crisis, a business says shoplifters are also back in droves.

EzyMart owner Ash Magableh said he struggled to make ends meet and says young offenders target his store every day.

“If I didn’t have responsibilities, I would leave,” Magableh said. A topical matter.

Ash Magableh. (A current affair)

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The owner of the convenience store claims that almost all of his staff have been attacked and are at their wit’s end.

“It hurts because we are working hard to survive, especially after COVID,” Magableh said.

“Imagine someone robs your store when you haven’t even completed the payments. I haven’t completed the payment…for the store layout.”

CCTV footage captured inside EzyMart. (A current affair)

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The accused young thieves can be seen in CCTV footage doing whatever they want – with sometimes violent results.

“My team and I have been abused every day, especially when we catch children stealing,” Magableh said.

He runs two EzyMarts in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, which he opened nearly a year ago.

CCTV footage inside EzyMart. (A current affair)

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But since day one, he has struggled.

“They come in groups, they just walk into the store, bother the guys behind the counter and other people, they just walk around stealing,” he claimed.

He said that day after day, hundreds of dollars worth of actions are taken.

In the CCTV vision provided to A topical mattera man could be seen on one occasion nonchalantly entering the store and then emerging, with handfuls of food.

CCTV footage inside EzyMart. (A current affair)

In another vision captured in Magableh’s store, three youths could be seen taking their time and loading their arms with cereal and drink boxes at the back of the store.

They then moved closer to the door and one of the boys appeared to get another drink.

Then, as they gathered, the doors opened and they rushed out into the night.

For store staff, the incidents were traumatic.

An EzyMart employee, who is too scared to be identified, was allegedly attacked in his store late last year.

One of the employees went to the hospital with injuries. (A current affair)

“After jumping for about seven minutes on his head, the ambulance arrived and they took him to the hospital,” Magableh said.

Magableh said the employee ended up with a huge cut and 14 broken bones and had to undergo surgery.

The store owner said most of his staff no longer felt safe after 8 p.m. It has lost about six employees in recent weeks.

“They are threatening the staff now,” he said.

Ash Magableh, owner of EzyMart. (A current affair)

Dominique Lamb of the National Retail Association said abuse and violence against retail workers increased by 20% after COVID-19.

“Each year, retailers (lose) about $9 billion to crime,” Lamb said.

She said job security can help, but only so far.

“The security guards really can only tell the abuser to leave,” she said.

“Even though they’ve banned them from the store, it’s very difficult to police something like that… so for a lot of our retailers, they feel like their hands are tied.”

Dominique Lamb of the National Retail Association. (A current affair)

Lamb said businesses need to make sure they report every case to the police, so they know there’s a problem in the area.

Magableh said police always respond quickly, but minors know the punishment is light.

“One of the guys, he said to me, ‘I’ll hit you and it’s just a pat on the hand and I’ll come back to you,'” he said.

The store owner said he just wanted to take a break, give his business a chance and make his staff feel safe.

“They don’t have to fly. If you ever get hungry, ask us. We’re happy to help,” he said.

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