Monday, 12 October 2009

Feeling the pinch

If you thought nobody would have the nerve to steal from a charity shop, you'd be wrong. In fact right now thefts are rocketing because crowded shops make it easy.

The recession has tempted more and more hard-up people into charity outlets, and it's hard for the staff (often elderly volunteers) to keep a close eye on what's going on.

Usually there's no security equipment and volunteers have no specialised security training. So things like clothes, DVDs and books are disappearing in droves.

Whether the thieves are taking things for their own use or to sell on to others isn't clear, but it's certainly making a big dent in charity income.

The British Heart Foundation estimates they're losing up to £2.5 million a year - money urgently needed for medical research and improved treatments. And that's just one charity.

Do the thieves believe their own needs are more important than those with heart disease? Or do they simply not care and just see charity shops as easy pickings?

If people really are desperate enough to steal, you'd think they would at least choose big commercial companies that can afford to lose some of their fat profits rather than organisations trying to help the sick and vulnerable. Have they absolutely no conscience? Or shame?

It might also deter people from donating to charity shops if they think their offerings will simply be ripped off for nothing. Donations are slowing as it is, with hard-pressed households hanging on to things rather than replacing them.

It's depressing to see how many people have the morals of a turnip.
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How about that? Scientists have discovered the world's first known vegetarian spider. Bagheera kiplingi, which was found in South America, lives almost exclusively on the leaf buds of wild acacia plants. All the other 40,000 species of spider are thought to be carnivorous. Let's hear it for those ground-breaking arachnids!

15 comments:

Baino said...

I think it very sad when Charity shops become easy pickings for thieves, I can only think it's desperate people who would do this. I mean it's all recycled stuff . . . shoplifting has increased here too! Although when I tried to give two perfectly good pieces of furniture to the Salvation Army recently, they were VERY fussy about it and wouldn't take it. I was quite offended since they were pieces we'd used right up until calling them.

As for your vegetarian spiders . . .excellent news . . you are not alone! hehehe!

Leah said...

...the "morals of a turnip" made me giggle.

Psychologically, pure practical need is rarely the motive behind shoplifting. So, very strange indeed.

Nick said...

Baino - I really don't know if it's desperate people or cynical thieves. Either way, the charities are suffering. As for donations, when I gave a chair to Oxfam recently, they wanted it to be guaranteed fire-resistant.

Leah - Probably turnips have better morals, they don't raid charity shops, they just linger quietly in the soil. Yes, I'm sure if you're in desperate need there are other less immoral sources.

Rummuser said...

Charity shops, elderly people, early morning walkers, name it the vulnerable and unable to defend or protect themselves groups are being targeted by people who perhaps no option. This is a major social problem and no solution seems to be in sight till people start finding employment and some income coming in.

Nick said...

Ramana - Perhaps they should be looking for the nearest banker's home and robbing that instead. True, the lack of jobs leads to all sorts of social problems including people preying on the vulnerable.

Wisewebwoman said...

It is because they are not sophisticated that they're being robbed Nick. Probably by druggies. Drug usage has gone way up.
Bankers are safe in their lofty heavily securitized towers as are other big chain shops.
Preying by the vulnerable on the vulnerable, it kind of makes a sick sense to me.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - It's a sad fact that charity shops will have to wise up and bring in all the heavy-duty security measures other shops have. And you could be right about druggies' involvement.

Cinnamon said...

Too true Nick, it's sad that people think they can just take, take, take. Going off at a slight tangent, I once heard a story of a man who was trying on jumpers in a charity shop and turned round to find that his own £100 cashmere sweater given to him by his girlfriend for Christmas, had been picked up and bought by another customer- the lady at the till had sold it, not realising it belonged to a customer! Beware all ye who enter here...

Nick said...

Cinnamon - Heartbreaking, I know, but that's a priceless story. Beware all ye who enter indeed. Remember to wear your tattiest and oldest clothes in charity shops!

Suburbia said...

I love charity book shops. Can't believe people would steal from them, the books are usually such a bargin.

Yay for veggie spiders!

Nick said...

Suburbia - We've got a great War On Want bookshop just down the road. But they always have loads of staff so I doubt if theft is a problem.

Veggie spiders are well cool!!

Grannymar said...

Easy targets for easy money, that is what the thieves want. Having volunteered as part of fund-raising for two different Charities over the years I know the work that goes into stocking and running these shops.

Nick, I know that War On Want bookshop, I have been there many times. Indeed the last time I brought Elly there she spent a fortune!

Nick said...

Grannymar - True, there's an awful lot of work involved and it must be very disheartening when it's wasted like that. Glad to hear you did some shop volunteering!

Liz said...

I just hope they are using the things they steal for themselves rather than selling on for a profit.

I've never thought of spiders as carnivorous. Now I shall have serious nightmares.

Nick said...

Liz - Yes, I hope it's for personal use too. Selling on is just too cynical to think about.

Goodness, surely you don't think a spider is going to eat you alive as you sleep?