Police warning - accept stolen goods and we’ll nick you


UK Internet users made 2.8 billion visits to retail websites last December and spent 372 million hours shopping online.

With the internet being readily accessible by mobile phones, tablets and computers, there is no wonder there has been an increase in cyber crime nationally.

Under Operation Yuletide, this week the main focus is on Shoplifting and Internet Shopping.

In 2011 it is estimated Britons spent £68.2 billion on the internet, of that £280 million was cyber fraud.

As the popularity of internet shopping and online auctions grows, so does the number of fraudulent transactions. Some of the most common complaints involve:

· Fake websites – a website that either impersonates a genuine reputable business (by using a very similar web address) or they pretend to be a legitimate business. Only set up to defraud unsuspecting shoppers.

· Ticket Scams – A website which offers hard to get tickets for sold out music or sporting events. Tickets are either never received or are counterfeit.

· Phishing emails – An email purportedly from a legitimate and well-known online business, auction or payment provider (e.g. PayPal or WorldPay) which contains a link to a fake but credible looking website where you are asked to update your personal account information.

This year a national fraud reporting centre was launched called Action Fraud.

Action Fraud offers information about fraud and financially motivated internet crime and is the initial reporting centre for all fraud and internet crime.

The service is run by the National Fraud Authority which helps to co-ordinate the fight against fraud in the UK and works with each local force to ensure a coordinated approach is taken to tackling the issue.

You can report fraud using their online fraud reporting service www.actionfraud.police.uk any time of the day or night; the service enables you to both report a fraud and find help and support. They also provide help and advice over the phone through the Action Fraud contact centre. You can talk to a fraud specialists by calling 0300 123 2040.

The official retail crime survey put the total cost of online crime for the retail sector alone at £205 million in 2011/12.

The online security company Norton has estimated that 12.5 million people in Britain have been a victim of cybercrime in the past 12 months.

Don’t become a statistic. Please take care when shopping online and visit www.actionfraud.police.ukfor more detailed information.


It is estimated shop lifting costs each tax payer in the UK nearly £200 each year. Therefore it is in everyone’s interest to reduce shop lifting.

Humberside Police have started to see an increase in first time offenders stealing non essential items; often luxury items like wine and expensive meats. By stealing and criminalising yourself, you are potentially ruining your future career choices, risking being banned from shopping in your favourite store and having a criminal record that will be with you for the rest of your life. Can you imagine the embarrassment of being arrested in front of a shop full of people and escorted to a police cell for questioning?

We know we will always have hardened ‘career criminals’ and know all too well their method for shoplifting; many thieves work in groups of two or more to distract sales staff while they pilfer. Shoplifters learn to take advantage of busy stores during peak hours or they may hit at times when employees are less alert, such as opening, closing and shift changes.

Hiding merchandise is the most common method of shoplifting. Items are concealed in the clothing of the shoplifter; in handbags, prams, umbrellas or inside purchased merchandise. Bold shoplifters may grab an item and run out of the store. Other methods include price label switching, short changing the cashier, phoney returns, and so on.

Humberside Police have spent a lot of time educating retail outlets on the common methods of thievery and key ways to spot a shoplifter. We want every shop to be forewarned and alert; whether the shop is a large company or supermarket or a locally run family butchers.

Unfortunately, there is no typical profile of a shoplifter. Thieves come in all ages, races and from various backgrounds. However, there are some signs that should signal a red flag for retailers.

While the following characteristics don’t necessarily mean guilt, retailers should keep a close eye on shoppers who exhibit the following:

• Spends more time watching the cashier or sales clerk than actually shopping.

• Wears bulky, heavy clothing during warm weather or coats when unnecessary.

• Walks with short or unnatural steps, which may indicate that they are concealing lifted items.

• Takes several items into dressing room and only leaves with one item.

• Seems nervous and possibly picks up random items with no interest.

• Frequently enters store and never makes a purchase.

• Enters dressing room or rest rooms with merchandise and exits with none.

• Large group entering the store at one time, especially juveniles. A member of the group causes a disturbance to distract sales staff.

Nationally in 2012 there was £4,699 million worth of stolen goods taken from shops.


Thieves often steal as there is a distinct supply and demand chain through which goods are easily disposed.

If a person buys stolen goods whether that is a joint of meat in a pub, a tin of sweets from the back of a van or something offered to you at your door, which generally speaking looks out of place to be sold away from a shop and at a discounted price – do not buy it.

If something seems too good to be true, it generally is and you could be arrested for handling stolen goods.

Handling stolen goods is taken as seriously as stealing the item in the first place.

Even if you are struggling financially, please do not be tempted to buy stolen goods – you are criminalising yourself, contributing to the shop price rises and running the risk of eating/using something you have no history of where it came from, how long it has been out of the fridge etc.

If someone offers you items you suspect have been stolen, please call Humberside Police on 101.