Shoplifters target charity stores

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A Barnardo’s store

Security measures are being stepped up in local charity shops as theft of donated stock, in particular expensive designer goods, is becoming more common and a fear for the staff.

Shop workers have told of diminishing stock due to this ever increasing problem and have expressed their concerns.

A manager at a Barnardo’s store in Allerton, who has been a charity shop worker for 15 years, said that the tender ages of some of the volunteers may be seen as weakness to shoplifters.

Gemma Bielak told JMU Journalism: “Our volunteers are generally women and some teenagers so people may see them as vulnerable. I know how to deal with the typical shoplifters and recognise familiar faces, but sometimes the volunteers don’t.”

She also revealed that it is donated designer clothes which shoplifters seek after the most. “Recently we had Hugo Boss shirts near the front of the shop. A man had rolled them up and placed them underneath other clothes ready to steal. I stood by his side, asking him if he needed help, until he left, to make sure none of them were stolen.

“I once had to approach a woman who left the shop with a jacket around her arm and say ‘do you realise you are taking from children?’ she came back the shop and paid for it and left a donation.”

A volunteer added that some shoplifters can often get violent, with one man even attempting to punch her in the face.

Paula Sharp, an assistant manager of a Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation store in Allerton, told JMU Journalism that a lot of the theft happens in changing rooms because clothes are not tagged.

She said: “I had to rugby tackle someone once who was trying to steal!”

Stock inside a Liverpool charity shop

To increase security and to keep shoplifters at bay, many charity shops have installed a bell behind the counter to alert managers of any wrongdoing and keep the most valued goods safely behind glass.

At Old Swan’s British Heart Foundation, a store which aims to help those suffering heart disease, the manager explained that many jewellery stands have been taken down after a loss was shown in their monthly stock take.

Teresa Baker said: “We have ornaments and jewellery that we now have to keep stored safely behind glass because so many was robbed by people who then go on to sell them in pubs. Christmas is the worst!”

She told JMU Journalism that theft is a daily problem which they are now trying to deal with by emplacing better security measures, including removing all discs from DVD covers to store in protected places. They have also increased the amount of staff that remains in the shop.

“We have two or three people monitoring the shop floor”, she said.

Charity workers across Liverpool are keen to put a stop to all robbery so that all of their focus can be on the positive foundations they are trying to generate money for. A volunteer at Roy Castle said: “all theft is bad but it just makes it worse that they are taking money away from good causes.”

About Michaela Routledge, JMU Journalism