TEEN shoplifters are using an online “crime school” to learn how to steal thousands of dollars in goods from Melbourne retailers.
Children as young as 13 are taught how to bypass store security cameras, deactivate electronic tags and outsmart loss prevention officers.
They then post photos of “lifting hauls” to the website — even tallying the value of cosmetics, clothing, lingerie and electronics stolen from stores.
Stores including The Body Shop, Mecca Maxima, Victoria’s Secret and Lush Cosmetics are among those targeted.
The Herald Sun found numerous light-fingered teens using the how-to-steal website with aliases such as “australianlifter”, “lawabidingkitten” and “lifting-madjic”.
Several claimed their shoplifting was justified — branding it a rebellion against retail corporations and unrealistic beauty standards.
“The more I look at prices on the items I shove in my bag, the more justified I feel in stealing,” one wrote.
“Asking $36 dollars for a pair of earrings, that is outright contempt for your fellow man.
“Companies repulse me.”
“I 100 per cent support women stealing beauty products,” confessed another user.
“Instead of throwing every spare penny she has away chasing after an impossible pipe dream sold to her since the moment she was born.”
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman slammed the behaviour and said it cost law-abiding consumers.
The Global Retail Theft Barometer estimates every Australian household pays an extra $424 dollars through higher prices.
“The shoplifting community definitely contribute to price increases, as retailers have to build
a cost structure around the loss of stock,’’ Mr Zimmerman said.
“Shoplifting hits the retailer’s bottom line, accounting for $7.5 billion across Australia.”
Melbourne Central and Highpoint are among shopping centres where thieves say they strike most.
A representative told the Herald Sun: “We operate a proactive security management program that includes dedicated on-site security patrols of all areas of the centre.”
Victoria Police Supt David Cowan said sticky-fingered teens could face up to 10 years’ jail.
But some escaped with just a caution.
“Enforcement options can vary — depending on the level of offending and eligibility, underage
offenders may be issued with a caution and released without charge,” Supt Cowan said.