South Australian Police have increased their presence in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall to deter would-be shoplifters following a string of violent incidents.

SA Police said extra uniformed officers supported by the specialist Security Response Section, mounted police and dog operations unit have begun patrolling the area in response to safety concerns from the community.

On Monday, a 15-year-old girl was charged with aggravated assault after allegedly attacking an employee at a sports store in Rundle Mall.

She was allegedly found with cosmetics and jewellery that police suspect were stolen.

Police are still searching for a man who allegedly confronted staff at a different sports store with a hatchet on Wednesday, after they approached him for stealing a T-shirt.

On Thursday morning, police said the additional patrols were flagged down by retailers who told them a man had stolen clothing items from another store.

A 45-year-old man from Bowden was arrested and charged with theft.

The recent incidents are not believed to be related.

Assistant Police Commissioner Scott Duval said the extra patrols would provide a highly visible and responsive presence.

“We are seeing an increase in shop theft in Rundle Mall and it was an opportune time for us to increase those police resources and provide that high level of community reassurance and community safety,” he said.

Assistant Police Commissioner Scott Duval has dismissed incorrect information shared about the incident.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

“We are actively engaged with the retailers, we work very closely with them, we offer them crime prevention advice and … [a] policing service that responds very quickly to those people that are committing shop theft within their stores.”

Assistant Commissioner Duval said diverting more police into the CBD would not leave other areas of the force understaffed.

“We have the police across the state to provide a good policing response. If another area needs that as a priority then we’ll reassess that in line with the priority that’s currently here in Rundle Mall,” he said.

“Police will come from across the various areas of SAPOL, that is all part of our normal surge response.

“It’s not a trial, it’s part of our normal prioritisation of resourcing so we’ll keep this resourcing so long as it’s necessary.”

This morning, police met with retailers at Rundle Mall as part of a regular Business Watch meeting.

Nike store owner Shannon Aistrope attended the meeting and said he believed the government’s response to the crime spike had been “well measured”.

“We’ve had a couple of isolated incidents in the last few days obviously and their response has been fantastic,” he said.

“It creates a safe environment for all the customers and the patrons and people alike and I think that’s a win for everyone, particularly the retailers.”

Police said the additional resources would form part of Operation Measure, which aims to prevent violent shop theft across the state’s entire metropolitan area.

SA Deputy Opposition Leader John Gardner said it was only a “short-term response”.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Opposition spokesperson John Gardner welcomed the increased police presence but said it was only a “short-term response”.

“We’ve been calling for a review of penalties and I think there’s a lot of police officers who are increasingly frustrated that when they arrest somebody and if they see them charged they may be let out on bail quite easily,” he said.

“If police officers are doing the work to find, track and arrest a perpetrator we need to make sure that the penalties being imposed are suitable to address the level of crime and disruption that that person has caused.”

Mr Gardner said retaining and attracting police officers was a priority for the government.

“Where are these resources coming from when there are vacancies elsewhere? That’s a real concern,” he said.

“There’s about 200 vacancies in our police force and the government has been missing the boat on attracting new recruits.”

Police Minister Joe Szacaks said significant investment by the government had seen a “dramatic turnaround” in the number of people applying to join the police force.

“We’ve doubled the number of police cadets being trained than we saw coming into government … we’ve also seen excellent progress with international recruiting … close to 100 applications in just a couple of months,” he said.

“We want more [officers] and we’re funding more, we’ve got the resources put in place.

“In terms of the additional surge in capacity we are absolutely satisfied – and this is based on the advice the police commissioner gives to me directly – that we have the capacity and they have the resources available to respond to these operational requirements like we are today.”

Mr Gardner said the state government was delaying releasing police crime statistics for January.

A police spokesperson said the statistics would be published and uploaded online on Monday, which would “be in line with previous reporting timelines”.

The most recent crime statistics from December 2023 showed there was a 31 per cent increase in shop theft and a 19 per cent increase in aggravated robbery compared to the year prior.

Last year, SA Police requested the footprint of the CBD’s Declared Public Precinct (DPP) be expanded following concerns about a rise in anti-social and violent behaviour.

The DPP, which is due to remain in place until April, gives police the legal power to stop and search anyone in the precinct for weapons or drugs, as well as evict people “posing a risk to public safety and order”.