Published On: Sat, Oct 21st, 2017

Supermarket thieves keeping thousands of pounds from charities – by stealing PLASTIC BAGS

One in six of Britons are stealing carrier bags instead of paying the 5p charge which goes to charitable causes.

Criminologists claim people do not consider taking carrier bags from self-service checkouts to be theft.

A third of those not paying the charge do so because they do not agree with the levy, research claimed.

The release of the figures has led to calls for stores like Asda and Tesco to tell customers how the cash is used to help the world around them.

However a study carried out for the Mail revealed many shoppers were suspicious about the money actually reaching charities.

This follows last month’s news that more than 10 per cent of the money raised from bags in Tesco stores was taken up by administration costs.

Researchers from Consumer Intelligence, who questioned 1,050 consumers, found that nearly half of those who failed to pay for bags claimed they simply forgot.

Criminology professor Dr Matt Hopkins said the actual number of people not paying for bags may be higher.

He told the Mail: “The work we’ve done previously around self-service checkouts suggests they are creating a new breed of shoplifter.

“People use a variety of neutralisation techniques to tell themselves that what they were doing was not really stealing.

“They may tell themselves Tesco is a massive chain and can afford the 5p charge or they may feel supermarkets are saving money with self-service checkouts.

“Because the bags were free and now they’re not, some shoppers may have a gripe about that.”

Consumer expert Martyn James said it was a “great shame” the shoppers were stealing the bags.

Mr James of consumer complaints website Resolver said: “Shoppers risk public humiliation by taking plastic bags.

“Polls show huge support for phasing out bags and charging for them, so I’m confident disagreeing with the charge is just an excuse.

“While some shoppers are unapologetic bag thieves, many more know they’re doing something wrong but justify it through ‘getting one over’ on big supermarkets or their frustration with the self-service checkout.”

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