Nov 10, 2023
Kent: Shop losing £1,500 a month in 'epidemic' of teenage shoplifting
A shop owner says brazen shoplifters are costing him £1,500 every month. Saba Mahesh claims his four shops in Sheerness, Kent, are being targeted on a daily basis by teenagers. CCTV footage from
A shop owner says brazen shoplifters are costing him £1,500 every month.
Saba Mahesh claims his four shops in Sheerness, Kent, are being targeted on a daily basis by teenagers.
CCTV footage from inside one of his stores shows one youth even crawling into the shop on his hands and knees to evade detection from behind the counter.
Mr Mahesh says they routinely go for sweets and vaping devices, making off with as much as £50-worth of goods each day.
He adds that antisocial and criminal behaviour in the area has only got worse since the pandemic.
He said: ‘I’ve been reporting the children who come into my stores and steal things since 2021. It always seems to be teenagers between 15 and 18 years old who cause issues.
‘Since the Covid pandemic, things have gotten really bad. These kids are stealing sweets, toys and even forcefully taking boxes of disposable vapes from behind the counters.’
He added: ‘What can you do? The kids keep coming back because they’re getting away with it. If my staff and myself are busy serving other customers they sneak in and steal without us realising.
‘I can’t invest in security guards either as it will be a waste of money that’ll further eat into my profits.’
Mr Mahesh says the impact on his business is such that he’s been forced to up the prices for other goods.
He said: ‘We’re really struggling, it’s a tough situation to be in. Because we’re losing money we have no option but to stop special offers on some products and raise the prices of others.
‘I have to find a way to cut our losses, which is why milk has risen from £1.70 to £1.90. My hands are tied.’
Mr Mahesh isn’t the only one to have noticed the rise in antisocial behaviour from teenagers on the Isle of Sheppey, which in recent months have seen a play castle burnt down, parked cars damaged, and broken glass in an outside paddling pool.
Many have blamed the rise in vandalism and youth crime on government cuts and reduced public services.
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Sheerness County Youth Centre boss Ray Featherstone said: ‘Youth work is reducing and that’s because the volunteering sector is very poor at the moment.
‘There isn’t anything for young people to do and because of that teenagers trying to have some fun suddenly start doing something illegal instead.’
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