Scarborough business owners are seeing a rise in the number of elderly shoplifters, who security guards are dubbing ‘bus pass bandits’.
As the economic downturn continues to bite, pensioners are increasingly turning to crime, tucking away tights, shampoo and food into shopping carts and bags.
When they are confronted by store detectives, most of the offenders refuse to admit they are actually committing a criminal act.
Cllr Janet Jefferson, a shop owner and chairman of the Scarborough Anti-Theft Group, which has over 90 members, said: “It has always been there but it has become more of an awareness. The people concerned in some of the cases don’t actually believe they are shoplifting. They are not aware it is a crime to steal goods from shops. That is often their defence.” In an attempt to tackle the issue, most of the elderly thieves are issued with cautions, forced to apologise to store owners or banned from shops.
However, prolific offenders - including elderly criminals that have been shoplifting for over 20 years - will be hauled before the court.
Cllr Jefferson said: “When we owned a mini-supermarket on Seamer Road I can remember we had an elderly customer who used to steal things like coffee and mini soap powders every day. It was a complete battle every time she came in. You have got to be very aware. Never judge a book by its cover.”