A South Australian supermarket chain is trialling GPS trackers on packages of expensive cuts of meat at two of its stores in a bid to prevent theft.

Drakes Supermarkets started trialling the polycarbonate containers three weeks ago.

Director John-Paul Drake told ABC Radio Adelaide that the containers alerted staff if removed from a store without payment.

He said the containers were being trialled at its North Haven and Eyre stores with expensive meat products like Wagyu steaks.

“We’re talking about meat that ranges from $50 to $100 per kilo, so it is the highest-end meat that we have,” Mr Drake said. 

John-Paul Drake says each container costs $35 each.(Supplied.)

“If that person leaves the store, let’s say they accidentally forgot to pay for this massive box of meat that they walked out with, then the store would be notified.”

Mr Drake said it was hoped to help address the $12 million in theft from Drakes stores each year.

“The containers cost $35 so, every time we get one of these containers, we have to pay $35 and it just adds up,” he said. 

“It’s like having security in your store 24/7.”

Retailers note a rise in theft

Australian Retailers Association chief industry affairs officer Fleur Brown told the ABC that other retailers were also increasing security to prevent theft.

Ms Brown said the theft of high value items, such as meat, had increased along with a wider jump in retail theft since 2022. 

“We know certainly in the meat area that that’s been a large issue when it comes to organised crime,” she said.

Fleur Brown says retailers are increasing security to tackle rising cases of theft.(Supplied: Fleur Brown)

“We are certainly seeing a prevalence of higher-value items being stolen and so, meat does fit into that category, it also offers a resale value.”

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told ABC Radio Adelaide that there were a number of factors that contributed to a rise in retail theft, including cost-of-living pressures. 

He said SA Police was committed to investigating cases of retail theft.

“I’ve met with commissioners from around Australia and New Zealand a couple of weeks ago …  we speak about these common issues that we’re dealing with and one of them that we are universally trying to address is retail theft,” he said.

“We’re doing as much as we can with the retail sector to … create better awareness in terms of prevention tactics and our role is to pursue the offenders and hold them accountable.

“It’s a multifaceted approach, but it is things like cost of living, it is people’s disregard for law, respect for other people’s property and there are people who simply do it because they’re criminals.”

SA Police stats show there has been a 30 per cent increase in theft from shops in the past 12 months.

There were 1,720 reported incidents across the state in January, and more than 18,400 incidents in the past year.