Tuesday, 3 December 2013

These Shoes Are A Steal

A 21 year old woman was caught stealing a pair of £3 shoes from the FARA charity shop in Central Road last Friday (29th November).

Shop staff spotted the theft and reported it to police who quickly turned up and traced the woman who was found inside the British Heart Foundation shop also in Central Road.

The woman was arrested for theft and admitted the offence, earning a £90 fixed penalty notice. She told police she had taken the shoes for her toddler son. The shoes were returned to the shop.

While I applaud the police for their quick and effective action and abhor thieving of any kind, I can’t help but wonder why this woman felt the need to take a pair of £3 shoes. Now she may have just been lazy and irresponsible and spent all her money on mobile phone apps and cigarettes before considering her son – in which case I say throw the book at her. However she may also have been in difficult and unusual circumstances leaving her without even £3. (I’ve been there myself - although never resorted to stealing). I’m sure there would be many people with a spare pair of toddler shoes who would quite happily give them away. Children’s clothes are always going spare. The difficulty is in matching up the person who wants rid of them with the person who needs them. So I would encourage the use of freebie websites so people can both get rid of, and find the things they need. Gumtree does one which can be found here. You are welcome to post any freebies on the Buy/Swap/Sell page here as well.

24 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Anne said...

I like this spirit of Charity so close to Christmas. Thanks Worcester Park Blogger for reminding us that Christmas is not just about spending crazy amounts of money! We sometimes tend to forget that in our quest for the latest thing :/

guest said...

Without knowing all the facts, Id question the shop workers who called the Police. This person took a pair of toddler shoes which had been donated to them. We have to face the facts that some people a desparate - the food bank collections in Tesco last weekend are proof of this. Im not condoning stealing, but common sense tells you that this person needed these shoes - they wern't even for her own use. This sums up charity shops and charities for me - a few years ago they declined my donations, because they had too much. Giving this young woman a £90 fine and record is really going to help her. Id never heard of Fara until they delivered a recent leaflet - I for one will avoid them now. Whatever people think, I feel sorry for this poor woman.

Barry said...

As 'Guest' points out, we know nothing about this woman or her circumstances. All we know is that the woman told the police that she stole the shoes for her toddler.
I would guess that a new pair of shoes would be in the region of £10 - £20 which, on the face of it, she was unable or unwilling to pay.
The shop was right to report the theft to the police as an offence had been committed..

If the woman was capable of paying for the shoes, I've got no sympathy for her.... end of.
If she was unable to pay the £3, then the police were wrong to impose the £90 fixed penalty as it is considered incorrect to impose a fine that is not affordable. It would appear that the toddler is to be without shoes for a long time to come. Properly, she should have received a caution.

I draw your attention to the other story that the blog reported yesterday entitled "Don't drive on the grass" in which four lads were caught smoking cannabis in public after a night out. Further drugs were found in the car. Two were arrested and merely received a caution. The other two were, presumably, let off.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions about the consistancy of the police in both matters.............

guest D said...


I completely agree, it also seems the local police are opting for the least work solution for them. A fixed penalty notice involves them with just writing out the ticket, a caution, which would have been the correct punishment would have involved taking her to the station, checking for any previous offences and getting someone of the rank of at least insepctor to issue the caution, much more work.

The same with the drug driver, it is an offence to be in charge of a vehicle having taken drugs, this includes many prescription drugs, just because it is not yet like Alcohol, socially unacceptable doesn't mean it isn't downright dangerous. I personally support 'Lillian's Law' named after a girl from Croydon who was killed by a driver high on Cannabis. What happened to the North Cheam driver, just a caution for attempted murder! okay that is a bit extreme, but in reality driving under the influence approches that.

guest said...

As the O.P. I totally agree with you.

Hrtless said...

There is just as much paper work involved in issuing a ticket as there is preparing a file for court/charging someone. This is due to the fact that any person can contest a ticket and therefore elect for a hearing. In order to issue a ticket, a crime report has to be produced and statements obtained. A file is then produced and supervised in order to make sure that if the person contests the ticket, that there is enough evidence in order to take it to court, this may also include obtaining any CCTV and producing further statements relating to the continuity of said CCTV. This would be the same process had the person been arrested.

There maybe a multitude of reasons as to why a ticket was issued, instead of the suspect being arrested, detained, interviewed and then a disposal being sought. PACE also dictates whether an arrest is legal as one of the reasons as person maybe arrested is in order to establish their name, address and DOB. These details are essential in order to issue the ticket and therefore would have been provided and verified.

Regardless of the reasons as to why this person stole the items, once the police are called, they are duty bound to act. Issuing a ticket allows the officers to complete the relevant paper work at the end of the shift, rather than having to arrest the person straight away and being taken off the streets there and then.

Issuing cautions are also influenced by the Crown Prosecution Service, who often dictate the way in which a suspect should be dealt with.

So, in conclusion.....The Old Bill, damned if they do, damned if they don't. If they arrest, people complain that they were too heavy handed, if they do nothing, then they are too soft should have done something. If they issue a ticket then they must be lazy, however if they arrest then there aren't enough police on the streets. If the CPS decide to caution, then again it is the police allowing criminals to get away with it. - #Rock&HardPlace

guest D said...

Thanks for your correction. Though I still would like to know why the drug users in the car where let off so lightly. If the officers concerned had smelt alcohol on the breath of the driver would they have ignored it in the same way?

Hrtless said...

You're welcome :-)

You also have to prove and offence or at least suspect it. Problem being, the police do not carry roadside tests for 'drug-driving'. Not sure exactly why, maybe due to costs/the science behind it or even case law. I'm 100% sure that, if in interview the driver had admitted driving under the influence of drugs, then blood or some other form of testing would have been taken in order to prove that the offence had taken place. However, when someone is drunk and driving a vehicle, the police can issue a roadside test and so is much easier to prove. It is an absolute offence, i.e. this person was driving and they were drunk.

I'm not completely sure of all the facts regarding the cannabis user and his vehicle. However even charging someone of being drunk and in charge of a motor vehicle is a very difficult thing to get the CPS to authorise a charge over, probably due to the lower than average chance of obtaining an conviction/winning the case. This could be down to the multiple defences which can be used.

However I will say this, (let's just say that I have a more than fair idea of how these things work and not because I'm the one committing these offences!).....I'm sure that any decent officer would attempt to catch and assist in the conviction of any criminal for as many of the crimes they may have committed. The problem comes in proving the offence and outside agencies which can sometimes dictate the way in which the suspect is dealt with

Guest said...

It seems nobody has yet picked up from this story that a woman who was so hard up that she could not afford £3, was somehow able to accept a £90 fine. Could it be that eBay is profitable enough that £90 can easily be made up from 'acquisitions' from other local charity shops?

Personally, I think the shop staff did exactly the right thing. If any charity shop gained a reputation for turning a blind eye to shoplifters, people wouldn't donate to it and you can imagine what kind of clientele it would attract.

guest D said...

Since Jan 2013 I understand that all Police Stations have DDS 2, Oral Mucosal Transudate (often incorrectly called saliva) test kits in place, it is intended to roll these out in the same way as the roadside alcohol in breath test kits. These kits will test for the presence of seven classes of drugs, of course they will only screen for the presence of drugs which will impair driving and a confirmation test, using OMT or blood will need to be performed to remove false positives. For example the roadside test can't distinguish between d-Amphetamine (impairment) and l-Amphetamine (available in cough mixtures in some European countries, no impairment), that will require a LC-MS-MS test.

I realise that this is fairly new and the CPS may be treading water in this area, but such testing has been in use in Italy for over 3 years now and the Home Office initiated discussions in this area over 5 years ago and it was in the 2012 Queen's speech

Hrtless said...

The only machines that I know about in relation to drug testing within a station, are called Cozart machines, these are used to detect drug use in suspects that have been arrested for 'trigger' offences -usually theft related offences. If tested positive, the suspect is then requested to speak to a drugs councillor. It's not to say that the other machine you mention isn't in place, I just haven't come across them. However even if the machines are in place, then as with trigger offences the suspect, if deemed suitable to take the test would have done so. Just the same as any suitable suspect will also have their DNA, fingerprints and photograph taken. If the law allows it, it is completed.

However the fact that the suspects were given cautions for cannabis suggest that the evidence wasn't there for charge or caution for any other offences. In order to be suitable for a caution, a person has to admit the offence and show remorse (amongst other criteria).

It makes no sense that the investigating officers would spend hours dealing with this matter, only then to caution for one offence. If the criteria was met for enabling the detection of any other crime, believe me this would have been taken.

One of the performance indicators for each area, are the number of crimes you 'solve' resulting in a charge or caution. It would be massively counter productive to only push for one detected crime, when you could detect more. Also at each stage, more senior supervisors check to see where the investigation is heading.

As stated, I'm not fully aware of all the facts of the cannabis car case, however knowing how the system works and the fact that a detected crime is worth it's weight in gold, I believe that the officers dealing with the case would have concluded the matter, having explored all available options.

guest D said...

For your information I suspect that the 'Cozart' machines are the older and now obsolete DDS 1. That is based on the fact that Cozart merged with Concateno, who were bought by Alere Toxicology that market the DDS 2.

Thanks for the detailed explanation, but, and this is not to critise the law enforcement system, I suspect that unlike drink driving, with drug driving it is not yet in the mind set to go for a conviction automatically.

Guest said...

Let's not forget that the person in the mini wasn't the 'driver', he was merely the person sitting in the driving seat of his car. It is not confirmed that there was any intention on the part of any of the occupants of driving the car anywhere.

Andrew said...

It should be glaringly obvious that these were not the actions of a career shoplifter, or else why steal £3 baby shoes from a charity shop?

Therefore it must be glaringly obvious that this lady is desperate to clothe her child this winter with no money. Now someone who could not afford a £3 pair of shoes is having to find £90 from somewhere to pay a fine.

Where is the sense is that? Can you imagine, for whatever reason, not having THREE POUNDS to spare to put shoes on your child in the winter?

We are not animals, we are humans, and we have moved on somewhat from cutting people's hands off for stealing an apple. It is not black and white, and a crime isn't necessarily just a crime. Some are a hell of a lot worse than that, but some are clearly less serious.

I can't help feeling that if I was the manager of a charity shop, or any retail shop, and I witnessed a young mother stealing £3 baby shoes leading up to winter I would not have called the police, rather confronted her and ask her why - and possibly even helped her out with something more if she genuinely is that desperate.

guest D said...

Further information, I just got this from one of my news feeds. It refers to the first road side test carried out for drugs in the UK.


Hrtless said...

I agree that Drug driving is a problem that needs to be dealt with seriously. Being in charge of a motor vehicle impaired either through drink or drugs is abhorrent. People that decide to drive know that they are not fit to do so, place themselves and everyone else in danger. Unfortunately, this appears to increase around this time of year. Hopefully changes in procedure throughout the Criminal Justice System will come down harder on those under the influence of drugs whilst driving.

Who Are We To Judge? said...

Putting the cannabis topic aside and getting back to the theft. None of us know the full facts although it is fact that people steal things whether they need them or not and then come up with what they hope will be a sympathy reason. Yes, this person could be down on their luck financially but she could also be a career thief for all we know. Maybe this was not the first time she had stolen from Fara which prompted them to call the Police rather than deal with it themselves. It is not for us to judge their actions as at the end of the day theft is a crime however you dress it up.

guest said...

You'll probably find that the fixed penalty avoided her getting a Criminal Record, I doubt the Police would have offered this if she did have one - another indicator that she possibly wasn't a career thief. Would a career theif be stealing from a charity shop in the first place!

We can all be complacent in our cosy homes, but the reality is that people are desparately short of money in the current climate, and the reality is, however unlikely, many of us could easily find ourselves in similar circumstances one day. We need to think of others and be greatful that they are suffering instead of us.

It would be better if we could actually find out more about this case, and if genuine we all put our hands in our pockets and helped this person.

Andrew said...

And you know she could afford the £90 fine because....?

Guest said...

Thank goodness we have a police service that actually investigates crimes and pursues criminals, as opposed to your excusing and speculating that the criminal is more worthy than the victim.

Guest said...

You obviously have even less idea about criminal justice than you do about this incident. There's a wealth of information about fixed penalties on-line, if you care to educate yourself.

Andrew said...

I just don't see how you can be sure the fine was paid, i.e that she could afford it.

Being issued with a Penalty Notice is no indication as to whether one can afford to pay it. The local traffic warden doesn't enquire as to my financial situation before slapping a ticket on my window.

Guest said...

Perhaps you've not considered the possibility that others writing here might know not just more about the issuing of any fixed penalty notice, but in particular, more about this specific case.

And perhaps it is known to some that the woman not only had the means to pay for the shoes, but even managed to make a rather more expensive cash purchase (for a rather less vital item), just before the theft took place.

Marmite said...

Some people steal because they feel like it, are opportunistic or are just immoral. This woman knicked these shoes because she could and probably justified it in her mind as it is a "charity" shop. This women can afford housing in this area....she can afford £3 'vintage' toddler shoes. Trust me. I have heard all the excuses in the world. Theft is theft. Poor people have morals, pride and are charitable. This woman is none of these things.

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