A stock photo of beef.
A stock photo of beef.

Australia is seeing a serious increase in meat theft from supermarkets due to recent research that shows an abrupt rise in stealing.

Meat theft increased by 85% in 2018, according to data from the retail criminal intelligence company Auror. Nationwide, more than 67,000 occurrences were reported, according to News.com.au.

Supermarkets are using cutting-edge tools like face recognition and CCTV to find these "beef bandits." The director of Drakes Supermarkets, John Paul Drake, emphasizes how successful this strategy is. Their sophisticated program, which was immediately connected to the police, observed one alleged shoplifter who had taken an astounding $12,000 worth of food.

"We know that these products aren't going to people in need," Drake told Nine.com.au. "People in need don't need wagyu and Angus pure beef to have on their tables."

A suspected "beef bandit" was captured on camera stockpiling premium cuts from a cooler and avoiding checkout, according to A Current Affair. There have been 27 reported thefts at Drake shops, of which this is just one.

Stealing meat isn't just a random act of thievery. According to Professor Mortimer, organized crime is to blame, with gangs focusing on costly cuts and reselling them. Using Auror's platform to identify repeat offenders and exchange information with authorities so that a larger bust can be made, retailers are fighting back.

"The technology that's now being used enables retailers to share that information with police and eventually when that person's picked up they won't be charged with just one offence but multiple offences," Mortimer said.

Auror tracks shoplifting events and reports them to police in collaboration with Coles, Woolworths, and stores like Drakes.

Woolworths has already taken steps to increase security in its stores in an attempt to curb an increase in stealing. Automatic gates in fast lanes and self-checkouts, as well as birds-eye view sensors, were tested. The consumers' anonymous digital ID was assigned by these sensors, and when they paid, it turned green, enabling them to pass through the gate and leave.