police mug shot mix-up has prompted a frustrated Dunedin man
to declare ''I am not a shoplifter''.
Brendon Keen (35) said he was getting sideway looks from shop
assistants, but a chance find by a mate in a clothing store
confirmed he had every right to feel paranoid.
That find was a collection of mug shots - including Mr Keen's
- under the heading ''active Dunedin shop thieves''.
Three years ago, he was involved in a bar fight after coming
to the defence of a younger cousin, and both were arrested -
his cousin for breaching a curfew for minor crimes, including
Weeks later, Mr Keen moved to the North Island for nine
months but on his return south began noticing the extra
attention from retail staff. All was explained when friends
told him about the photo montage.
Mr Keen told the Otago Daily Times he did have a
police record, ''but nothing for dishonesty''.
In an effort to clear up the matter, he contacted the
Community Law Centre and Dunedin police, and believed the
situation was resolved.
However, Mr Keen was aware several shops still displayed the
collection of mug shots.
Inspector Mel Aitken, of Dunedin, confirmed Mr Keen's photo
was incorrectly included in a collection of mug shots of
convicted shoplifters distributed in 2010.
''As soon as police realised the error, they advised shop
owners to take the incorrect montage down and replace it.''
Mr Keen contacted the ODT so he could appeal to stores
to remove the collection with his photo because ''it's
''I am not a shoplifter.
''I know I stand out with my neck tattoo ... but are [shop
assistants] looking at me because my photo is in the back of
the shop and they think I'm going to steal something''.
Police had apologised for the mix-up and had since reviewed
processes to ''ensure this doesn't happen again'', Insp
''We are endeavouring to visit retailers more frequently to
ensure that they are using montages correctly.''
Mug shot collections were released to retailers to help them
identify potential shoplifters, and retailers had to display
them in a private place, and sign a form asking them to use
the collections safely and legally.