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christmas crime

Organised gangs are flying into Dublin to shoplift your belongings this Christmas

Retailers want courts to crack down harder on shoplifting.

WHEN YOU’RE OUT and about shopping this Christmas, watch your bags.

Organised gangs are said to be targeting stores over the festive season to steal people’s belongings, according to ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association.

One retail group told that some gangs are even flying in to target specific streets over the festive season.

ISME has sent a warning to retailers to be extra vigilant during the Christmas period, but that warning can be extended to shoppers too.

It says that shops throughout the country are being increasingly targeted by shoplifters and organised gangs.


The association says that evidence indicates that retailers are twice as likely to be victims of shoplifting over the Christmas period, thanks to busy stores and large crowds.

  • ISME estimates that two thirds of all retail outlets across the country will be targeted by shoplifters over the Christmas period.
  • It even says that over 75% will experience more than one shoplifting incident.
  • It also estimates that Christmas losses in Ireland in the six weeks from mid-November to end-December of this year will be as high as €54 million
  • This is a rise of 5% on the 2013 figures.

ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding said that shoplifters “see the Christmas period as the ideal opportunity” to shoplift due to crowds and more stock on the shelves.

He also said that some people buy stolen goods from thieves, “probably aware that the items have been obtained illegally, but thereby helping to promote the business of crime”.

ISME research found shoplifting almost trebles at Christmas compared to the rest of the year. It says that Friday and Saturday are peak days.

While alcohol, electronic goods, phones, cosmetics, clothing and food products are the most common items targeted by thieves, ISME has also noticed a significant surge in theft of luxury items.

Crime and Punishment

ISME said that business owner-managers have a “significant role” to play in combating shoplifting, it is calling for an increased garda presence in the main commercial and shopping centres over Christmas, together with swift court action to deter retail crime and jail the offenders.

Seán Murphy, Deputy CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland agreed with ISME’s assessment.

“Loss prevention officers have a real challenge at Christmas,” Murphy told

There are some organised gangs - some have been known to fly in to hit certain streets and fly out again.

He described shoplifting as a “perennial challenge”, but said that the concern from REI members is that “it isn’t treated as seriously in courts as it could be and should be”.

He said that in court, dealing with individuals “on a case-by-case basis may not capture the amount of serial shoplifting they’re doing”, so they are “not being judged as hard as they should be”.

“Shoplifters affect the bottom line of every consumer because the shop has to recoup the loss,” he said. ”They do very real economic damage.”

Combating crime

ISME recommends that retailers take a number of steps to combat the increased level of crime against their business, including:

  • Good store management, including staff communications and training.
  • Regular liaison with Garda Crime Prevention Office.
  • Good stock controls, ensuring that management are aware of stock levels at all times and are in a position to notice ‘shrinkage’.
  • Adequate security measures which include CCTV and in-house security officers.

Read: Pharmacies a growing target for shoplifters and thieves>

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