'Lowest of the low': The shoplifters targeting charity shops

ITV News' Consumer Editor Chris Choi has this report as charity shops desperately appeal for help amid a shoplifting crisis

Charity shops have told ITV News of a rise in shoplifting that is taking hundreds of thousands of pounds away from good causes.

We are showing CCTV images that will enrage many viewers and which underscore the sector’s desperate appeals for help. 

Our new research shows store thefts are costing the average charity shop an estimated £26,400 a year and the urgent need to install extra security is a further drain on their resources.

Stark words from a leading figure in charity retail pinpoint the anger: "It seems almost incomprehensible that people would stoop so low to behave like this," Robin Osterley said during our interview.

Charity shop workers said the overarching feeling is anger. Credit: ITV News

"But stealing from charity shops does have a feeling about it, that this is about as low as you can get."

As CEO of the Charity Retail Association, he believes there needs to be “a total stigma” about stealing from these outlets.

It’s vital there is an end to the seemingly widespread concept that this is a victimless crime.

It seems some people think because charity shops get their goods for free, it’s fine to steal from them.

The truth is the outlets and the good causes they support are both victims - along with the staff and volunteers who endure this crime wave on a daily basis.

A new survey for ITV News by the Charity Retail Association is just as worrying as the alarming CCTV images.

  • 83% of respondents said shoplifting had increased over the past 12 months. This was by an average increase of 28.5%.

  • 42% of charity shops told us they don’t report these thefts to the police - either because they don’t believe there will be a response or due to their lack of evidence. 

  • 66% of the shops said they had taken extra security measures as a result of shoplifting, costing an average of £7833 per charity. 

  • Charities had lost an average of £26,400 due to shoplifting in the past year.

  • 59% of respondents said incidents of abuse of staff and/or volunteers had increased in the last year. The average increase being 33.3%.

When the sector that exists to help others now appeals for help itself, it is important we respond.

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