Retailers want parents who use children for shoplifting to be prosecuted

Stores are reporting more and more of the ‘orchestrated’ thefts.

By Fora Staff

RETAILERS HAVE TOLD gardaí that they want parents who use their children to steal from businesses to be prosecuted.

Children under the age of 12 are generally not held to have criminal responsibly for their actions – but shop owners claim some parents take advantage of this fact by sending juveniles to steal on their behalf.

Retail Excellence, which represents more than 1,600 businesses, called on gardaí to punish any adults who are caught using children to commit thefts as being accessories to crime.

The group made the request at the Garda Retail Forum last week, following on from similar claims aired at a briefing for TDs and senators.

Retail Excellence head of public affairs Lorraine Higgins said shops were reporting an increase in similar incidents, which represented “organised criminal activity which has been fully orchestrated by a parent”.

“Many of our retailers have reported a rise in the number of unscrupulous parents who are using their children to rob and pilfer high-end items so they can sell these items on for profit,” she said.

“And we are not talking about situations where children mistakenly take items. We are talking about organised criminal activity which has been fully orchestrated by a parent.

“Once there is evidence a crime has been committed and it can be proven the parent orchestrated the illicit activity beyond all reasonable doubt then that parent should be charged as being an accessory in the theft end of story.”

Broken system

Speaking at the group’s recent ‘annual retail retreat’, Harvey Norman’s head of loss-prevention, Michael Neary, said Ireland’s legal system was “broken” and worked “against retailers”.

“I’ve caught nuns (shoplifting), I’ve caught priests, I’ve caught neighbours, lads I went to school with,” he said.

Higgins added that gardaí have agreed to work with retailers on enforcing the law.

“Hopefully, this will result in a reduced number of thefts because if the current situation is allowed fester it will cost jobs in the largest private industry employer in this country,” she said.

Reporting by Paul Hosford and Peter Bodkin.

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