Thief snatches fortnight's money from age pensioner


Sir – At about 2.30 pm [yesterday] I entered the Yeperenye Centre and was confronted by the aftermath of an especially callous robbery.
The victim was an elderly woman who was robbed while withdrawing her entire pension ($600) from the ATM in the Centre.
The thief swooped in and grabbed the cash and then dashed out the door.
The thief was described as an Aboriginal woman aged in her early 20s with a distinctive hair style that was big, doubling the size of her head.
The pensioner was understandably very upset. That $600 was the money she needed to live on for the next fortnight.
A security guard was nearly but said he had no authority to intervene or do anything except call the police.
‘We can’t touch anyone,” he said.
I asked him what his purpose was in the Centre?
The police came and were looking through CCTV footage.
I’d like to draw attention to this robbery, to bring the thief to justice and to alert people to the risks in withdrawing cash at an ATM, especially the one in the Centre.
Also seems to me that the Centre guards provide a false sense of security.
Ralph Folds
Alice Springs


  1. Actually, anyone has the right to intervene in a crime being committed and use reasonable force in such a situation.
    What a cop out from the security guard.
    For the sake of humanity, hopefully they are just following (absurd) company and/or Yeperenye (Centrecorp cough, cough) policy rather than their own moral compass.

  2. No, I don’t believe it is a cop out from the security guard.
    I am not normally one to make an assumption, but the way Occupational Health and Safety is as part of employment, if he were allowed to intervene and did get hurt, then no doubt his employer would be open for suing and workers comp etc.
    If he is not allowed, but intervenes anyway, then he could lose his job for breach of contract. Unfortunately until we have some major changes, this will become the norm not just for Alice but around the country.

  3. Come on CentreCorp owners of the Yeperenye Centre.
    How about helping this pensioner out?
    You wouldn’t have to do it for everyone.
    This is a compelling case for compassion.

  4. OK Chris, so could you explain to my simple brain why there are security guards in banks and shopping centers? I believe you are on the wrong track.
    If I have a contract with a security company what are they good for? Because according to the law, I was under the impression that a security guard, just like any other member of the public, can make a citizen’s arrest.
    A security guard or bouncer can arrest anyone if they reasonably suspect that they have committed a crime or are in the middle of committing a crime.
    They can only use reasonable force to make the arrest.
    Quote can they arrest me?
    A security guard or bouncer can arrest you if they find you in the middle of committing an offence.
    A security guard or bouncer can also arrest you if you have just committed an offence, but only on certain conditions. The guard or bouncer must have reasonable grounds to believe that you committed the offence, and the arrest must be necessary for the safety of others, to preserve public order or to ensure that you appear before a court.

  5. @ Watchn: Time for a big stick or lollies with balls. I think the big stick method is worth a shot.

  6. @ Evelyne Roullet: Agree. This little old lady is probably like so many oldies.
    Only trusts cash and more comfortable talking face to face with a bank teller if truth were known.
    And as for today’s tap and go credit cards – no ID required under $100.
    A little old lady silly enough to rely on a visa card can lose it or be mugged.
    And her credit limit wiped out in an eye blink by these rotten thieves who prey on the elderly and the vulnerable.
    Now security guards who can’t go to their aid in broad daylight.
    Who would want to be an oldie in today’s faceless user-unfriendly shopping centre?

  7. @ Evelyne: Yes, a security guard can arrest anyone, in fact a normal citizen can arrest a person under similar circumstances, but usually it would not be a case of a person saying you are under arrest, they would instead hold them until the police arrived.
    And yes, both can use force to protect themselves or others, however some of what Chris said is valid. It depends on the conditions the security guard has been employed under, i.e. it may be specified that they are there as a deterrent only. The ones in Yeppie and Coles would most likely have that drilled into them, deter and issue verbal instructions, but do not physically intervene.
    They would also be trained in gathering relevant info to pass onto the police once they arrive.
    This would have been done as a risk assessment of the likelihood of being held vicariously liable if sued, a reputation at risk, as well as a health and safety risk assessment for the security guard.
    Go against your employment instructions and you would possibly lose your job.
    It is the same as using physical force to control a child.
    A teacher has the legal right to use physical force to discipline a child, or at least has that as a defence in law, but they could be a in breach of the education department policy if they did so, again likely to be de-registered.

  8. @ Local: No teacher in this day and age uses physical force to discipline a child.
    But of more relevance a teacher does have a legal right to use physical force to prevent harm.
    Similarly a security guard can and should intervene to prevent a theft.
    It is lawful for them to use reasonable force to prevent a crime.
    Let’s get real. No way would our police do anything but shake the hand of the guard.
    In my opinion this theft highlights Centrecorp’s failure to provide security for shoppers.
    It appears they have opted for low risk less expensive security which turns out to be useless.
    Centrecorp should pay the pensioner the $600 stolen from her and arguably may have a legal obligation to do so.

  9. Yes, Teacher: A shopping centre owes a duty of care to their customers. It is their responsibility to keep customers on their property, safe and free from undue harm.
    Same for the bank: Banks must provide reasonable lighting, security measures and ensure there are visible protocols to deter possible criminals from engaging in ATM robberies that can leave the victim without money or injured.
    The bank can suffer liability concerns if there are no sufficient measures in place to help prevent the robbery at an ATM.
    When a robbery occurs that harms the victim in some manner, the bank could share liability and may need to pay out compensation for the involved damages.

  10. Well Evelyn its like this, since you rightly mentioned duty of care.
    The security guards’ employer also has a duty of care to his employees which would be their no 1 priority or risk huge fines and potential jail time.
    Do security guards carry weapons? I would think not.
    So I would say they are there as a deterrent, albeit a very poor one.
    I would love to see the rights of honest citizens upheld and looked after with crooks deservedly punished.
    Unfortunately the lines are very blurry and there are no definitive answers about how far someone can go to do an arrest. It all comes down to who has the better lawyer in court.

  11. @ Chris: Lilly livered responses like yours are one of the reasons there is so much crime in our town.
    Of course that security guard should have jumped in and grabbed the offender with the money she had stolen from the pensioner.
    Very low risk but as long as reasonable force was used there are no legal issues.
    Also no legal issues if the culprit fought with the guard and was injured.
    Reasonable force means whatever it takes in the circumstances.
    I recall seeing a guard sitting on an offender while awaiting the police.
    Legal reasonable force was applied.
    So the rules have changed in the Centre.
    I suspect the ban on intervention has more to do with complaints about racism than the risk of physical harm.

  12. Jack: “Lilly livered responses like yours are one of the reasons there is so much crime in our town”.
    Really? You may want to reread and have a bit of a think about what you just wrote.
    I didn’t say I thought it was right, I clearly stated I would love to see crims punished and the rights of innocents upheld.
    I think our law system is way too soft on crime.
    As an employer myself, I have a fairly good understanding of the legal side and ramifications if an employee gets hurt.
    Trust me, even when you do have procedures, and an employee breaks them, it still isn’t enough to get you off the hook.
    I don’t agree that it should be this way, but they are not my rules, if they were, it would be very different world we live in.
    These crims are getting more brazen and I have personally had one threaten me with a pair of scissors, so to assume they are unarmed would be at your own peril.
    I can and do stand up against crime and have gotten physical on numerous occasions. For what it is worth, just last night I caught and detained two people, one adult and one youth who had broken in to a pub and stolen alcohol.
    When I rang the police and told them, I was told that they were not going to send out a patrol. We had to wait until someone was knocked out and another person attacked with a shifter before Darwin comms thought it was worth sending a patrol out for.
    My point is yes, I believe the security guard should have stopped it, and I would have, but if he is at risk of losing his job and may not be financially well off, as well as all of the extra risks of injury as well as ramifications from the justice system, then you can’t really blame him for not stepping in.
    Remember the “consequences will flow” speech?

  13. Chris you are 100% correct. Your comment has nothing to do with why crime is like it is, you simply stated the obvious.
    @ Teacher: Before you respond, best to actually understand what I wrote. I did not say that any teacher uses physical discipline these days. What I said is that it is a defence under the NT Criminal Code if they do, and the same Act further says that a teacher automatically has the right to do so unless it is expressly withheld by the person responsible for that child.
    Despite having this defence available to them, the would most likely be dismissed as it is against the departments policy.
    This relates directly to my original argument, where although the security guard is protected in law by using force in the defence of themselves or “others”, it is most likely a direct breach of his employers policy, which may earn him a handshake by the police, but would also see him fighting for, or out of, a job.
    Been there done that!

  14. @ Chris: A security guard intervenes to stop a theft and prevent a pensioner from losing her fortnightly payment and he may lose his job?
    Rubbish! No security company in our town would do that and there are protections under the FairWork Act.
    As for the costs, every security guard is covered by insurance, paid for by their employers, as mandated by industry regulations.
    But none of this is relevant.
    The underlying issues have nothing to do with employment law and everything to do with the owner of the Centre.
    The owner of Yeperenye is Centrecorp.
    They are very sensitive about any hint of racism in their properties.
    Some time ago when Yeperenye security staff were briefed to intervene and hold offenders for the police there were complaints when an Aboriginal woman was very publicly held down.
    There were several “ugly” scenes where security staff grappled with Aboriginal offenders.
    It wasn’t a good look for Centrecorp.
    They were embarrassed.
    So they changed the rules to limit the role of the security staff.
    As a result there wasn’t the ugly scene of an Aboriginal woman being grabbed by security staff in public when she swooped on the pensioner.
    Of course old people can now be mugged right in front of security staff with impunity.
    But it is important to get priorities right.
    There is no “racism” in the Yeperenye Centre.

  15. Hello my name is Tom Turnbull and I own Talice Security here in Alice Springs.
    We are contracted by the Yeperenye Shopping Centre for supply of Security Services to the Centre.
    I would not normally respond to a matter that has already been reported to police as it is now before the courts.
    However I’m concerned that some readers or contributors may have been provided with inaccurate information about what occurred particularly regarding the role of my security officers, at the time of an alleged robbery involving an elderly woman at an ATM.
    Immediately after the incident I reviewed the footage and observed that the security officer was dealing with a completely separate incident at the other end of the shopping centre and was not present nor was he witness to the alleged robbery.
    My officer has assured me that no such comment was said, as indicated in some articles such as, “we can’t touch anyone”. This comment is not correct.
    We have a duty of care and can absolutely involve ourselves when a crime is being committed, such as restraining someone.
    Had one of our officers been in the area when this incident had occurred, I’m confident that his or her presence would have either prevented the incident occurring or he or she would have done everything in their power to ensure the safety of the victim was their number one priority.
    Our officer was informed after the incident occurred and he spoke with the victim directly after the event.
    Our officer was upset that they could not have been there to prevent the incident but unfortunately the guard cannot be everywhere at once.
    I have since spoken to the victim and offered my support and apologised that we could not have been there to potentially prevent the incident.
    She was overwhelmed with the level of support she has received from the community and could not thank everyone enough.
    I hope this clears any confusion or uncertainty around this subject.
    [ED: We emailed the Yeperenye Centre on 12 March 2020 at 11:00:25 am ACST offering the right of reply about the incident but we received no response. Erwin Chlanda, Editor.]


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