THE hunt is on for a woman who stole items from the Urangan Post Office as the crippling cost of shoplifting and petty thievery to small businesses is revealed.

CCTV captured a young mum allegedly stealing a card and a box of Darrell Lea chocolates from the post office about 4.05pm last Friday.

This has cost owner Vanessa Caplice hundreds of dollars in beefing up her security, working overtime and increasing the price of store items to compensate for the reduced intake.

Urangan Post Office's owner Vanessa Caplice has had enough of people stealing from her store.
Urangan Post Office's owner Vanessa Caplice has had enough of people stealing from her store. Alistair Brightman

"It's about the 20th time this year that people have taken things from us," Ms Caplice said.

"I reckon we're up to about $3000 worth of gear already lost this year."

Ms Caplice said it was "frustrating" to deal with the repercussions of petty theft because people didn't understand how much it actually cost small businesses.

"My husband and I have to work longer hours just to recover the price of all that lost stock," she said.

At Maryborough's Walker St News, manager Billie Sweet said it could take weeks to recover from the loss of something as simple as a magazine.

"We don't have a huge profit margin at the newsagents, so I find it hard to get that lost money back," Ms Sweet said.

"I end up having to work up to 80 hours a week just to cover those shoplifting costs, and I can't put on more staff."

But working long hours and the potential payouts for insurance and damage is only part of the hidden costs, according to Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook.

Ms Holebrook said there was a level of anxiety that came with the heightened sense of surveillance needed by staff.

"At the end of the day, the increasing effects of shoplifting and how it impacts the community's economy needs to be taught more strongly as a deterrent," Ms Holebrook said.

"That way, if people see something they're more than likely to report it and stop theft from happening."



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