WISBECH: Unless it's nailed down, they will take it warns charity shop worker

PUBLISHED: 13:07 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 08:54 02 June 2010

Thefts from Wisbech charity shops
Anita Saunders

Thefts from Wisbech charity shops Anita Saunders

THIEVES targeting charity shops in Wisbech are cheating deserving causes out of thousands of pounds. Some shops are being hit daily with volunteers fearful of confronting the culprits who can be drunk or stealing to feed drug habits. We used to live in

THIEVES targeting charity shops in Wisbech are cheating deserving causes out of thousands of pounds.

Some shops are being hit daily with volunteers fearful of confronting the culprits who can be drunk or stealing to feed drug habits.

"We used to live in fear of being mugged or stabbed," said a member of staff before security equipment was installed. Unless it is nailed down they will take it".

While some of the shops have joined a radio link warning scheme others just cannot afford the cost.

The Association of Charity Shops claims shops are losing between five and 10 per cent of annual turnover compared to 1.3 per cent for commercial retailers.

Anita Saunders, assistant manager of the Sue Ryder Shop, said: "It has been so bad we have had to spend money and join Shop Watch to protect ourselves. People are often aggressive and threatening. They have got no morals or principles - they don't care that we trying to raise money for a good cause, they don't have any standards."

Anita says many of the thieves work in gangs or pairs and are becoming increasingly clever in the techniques they use. She said: "We even have people stealing things and putting the items under the covers of a pushchair with a child in it.

"The only way we could stop it would be to have someone on the door at all times and check people as they went out. We have got volunteers on the floor but we cannot vet all people all the time."

Anita says the need for more volunteers who can give their time on a regular basis is vital in the bid to deter thieves.

Manager of the British Heart Foundation Shop Sue Small has dismissed the idea that thefts have increased because of the credit crunch. She said: "I don't think the recession has anything to do with it, it has always been a problem. In a year over all our shops we are losing a huge amount of money.

"We are always finding empty hangers and tickets screwed up on the floor. All you can do is swamp the floor with staff and try to put them off doing it. They go especially for good labels. One day we found a nice neat pile of clothes in the changing rooms after a person had changed all their clothes and left the old ones behind.

"They try shoes on and leave the ones they were wearing when they came in and we get people who walk out wearing a pair of jeans over their own trousers. It is very frustrating but we can't stop it all and we don't take any risks by confronting people."

With 25 years experience in the retail trade manager of the Salvation Army Shop Sandra Stevenson says Wisbech has always had a bad record for shop lifting.

She said: "Yesterday we had a watch stolen and the week before a handbag, we are also losing clothes. We can't afford to have the radio link because we don't have the resources of some of the other charity shops.

"We had a man who ran out of the door with a £10 pair of boots which is a lot of money to us. People take things into the changing rooms or divert us and it is getting worse.


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