Ireland’s ‘Feral’ Youth Shoplifting ‘Till They Drop


An Oireachtas Committee has heard of a shoplifting “explosion“, exponentially attributable to underage theft.

Committee members have also been told of a ‘whole new level of aggression‘ towards staff.

Shoplifting has reached “pandemic levels” with retail staff frequently subject to violence and racist abuse from those responsible.

There’s been a 14% increase in shoplifting offences ion 2023 but retail groups told the committee that many more incidents go unreported.

Shop owners encounter incidents of crime, fraud, abuse and theft everyday involving serial shoplifters, and “feral youths” who ”believe they are untouchable and can abuse who they want and steal whatever they want with no consequences”.

There’s also the suggestion of “organised gangs” of shoplifters who drop from place to place to steal to order.

Retailers told TD’s and Senators that their staff routinely suffer being ”kicked, beaten, spat at, stabbed with knives or syringes and shot at in the course of their work”.

Retailers add that these offences are ignored by Gardaí or the courts as the loot is often deemed too low in value.

Vincent Jennings of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association said gardaí believe the majority of offences are carried out by a relatively small number.

He insisted that the increase in shoplifting, which he said is at “pandemic levels”, is not related to increases in the cost of living.

He said. “Individuals secreting alcohol on their person or persons literally emptying whole display sections of expensive personal hygiene products or washing machine refills are not robbing to feed a starving family”.

It also heard from Musgraves and the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association and the Retail Grocery Dairy and Allied Trades Association, who told members the estimated the overall cost of retail crime is around €1.6B a year, and the cost to many individual grocery stores is around €40,000 on average.

Earlier this week, gardaí commenced Operation Táirge, a national initiative targeting organised shoplifting.

They’ve since arrested a woman in her 50s, on suspicion of eleven incidents of theft from stores in Newbridge, Portlaoise, Athy, Kilkenny, Wexford and Maynooth.