Shoplifters are using TikTok to share tips on how to steal from stores and adopting codewords like ‘borrowing’ to avoid detection by its filters.
One user, ‘x_borrowing.tings_x’, ranked stores out of ten based on how easy they were to steal from, with Asda given full marks because their branches are ‘so easy’ to target.
Poundland got a seven, because it only had a ‘couple of cameras and if you get caught you can just pay for it’, while Savers was rated two before it has ‘lots of cameras and staff will follow you if they think you’re suspicious’.
Superdrug was given a five because ‘security is getting better’ but it is ‘easy for lip glosses’, while Wilko received nine because its security stickers ‘are easily peeled off’.
Tips shared by criminals include wearing loose clothing to make it easier to hide stolen goods, not looking at security cameras and avoiding small businesses as they are more likely to take action.
One user, ‘x_borrowing.tings_x’, ranked stores out of ten based on how easy they were to steal from
In other posts, the TikToker shared photos of cosmetic products they had stolen from stores
They claimed on this post to have stolen these products five days before
Other TikTokers thanked the users for their advice and boasted about how much they had been able to steal.
Policing minister Chris Philp said he was ‘horrified’ that TikTok had allowed the posts to remain on its platform and would be asking for an urgent meeting with its executives.
‘They should not be facilitating the spread of criminal practice,’ he told The Times.
Today, Dame Sharon White, chairwoman of the John Lewis Partnership, said shoplifting has become an ‘epidemic’.
She said the UK needs a comprehensive plan to stop organised gangs, and called for Scottish legislation that makes the abuse of a retail worker an offence to be brought in nationwide.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: ‘In the last year we’ve seen twice as many offences.
‘When I think about our shop workers who were lauded as national heroes during the pandemic, it’s not right that they’re having to put up with abuse and attacks.
‘Incidents haven’t always been responded to by the police… and sometimes those incidents have got some violent aspects.’
She said a royal commission is needed to help support retailers.
A list of shoplifting tips shared by a TikToker. This particular post appears to have come from the US
It recently emerged that the Co-op had introduced a range of dummy products that shoppers will have to take to the till to swap for the real thing to make it harder for organised criminal gangs to steal things in ‘bulk’.
The chain recorded a 35 per cent increase in shoplifting in the first six months of this year.
Ten grocers and retailers including John Lewis, Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Next are now providing £600,000 to fund a new police crackdown on shop theft.
The scheme, dubbed ‘Project Pegasus’, will see officers run CCTV footage of shoplifters through a national database which uses facial recognition technology.
Police chiefs say this will give them a better picture of where shoplifting gangs operate and which shops they are targeting.
Policing minister Chris Philp has asked police to deliver a ‘zero-tolerance plan to target shoplifting’ within six to eight weeks, The Times reported.
Police have been accused of not taking shoplifting seriously. The offence has surged by a quarter this year, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But retailers have said some staff are hesitant to call the police out to retail crime incidents due to a lack of proactiveness in the past, creating a vicious cycle.
Big brands have been forced to invest millions into increasing their use of CCTV and giving staff body cameras to wear.
The chairman of Asda, Lord Stuart Rose, has also complained that shoplifting had effectively been decriminalised.
‘Theft is a big issue. It has become decriminalised. It has become minimised.’
A brazen thief at a Co-op in Lavender Hill, Wandsworth, with his heavy rucksack weighed down by stolen booze
A thief seen in Nottingham. Ten major retailers are set to pump in £600,000 into a police operation to tackle shoplifting
He added: ‘It’s actually just not seen as a crime anymore. We’ve become risk averse.’
Iceland executive chairman Richard Walker said his company is spending ‘more than ever’ on security, yet ‘serious incidents have never been higher’.
Writing on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, he said: ‘This is a matter of staff safety: the govt urgently need to review police funding & resources, but also the powers that our security officers have.’
A TikTok spokesman said: ‘We have zero tolerance for content facilitating or encouraging criminal activities, including theft, as set out in our community guidelines and will remove this content if found.’