Shoplifters use TikTok to share tips for stealing items - and even which stores to shoplift from

Various shops including Asda, Primark, Boots and Wilko have been rated according to how easy they allegedly are to steal from

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Shoplifters are sharing their tips for how to steal from stores on TikTok - and have even rated various shops based on how easy it is to take items from them.

The videos, which appear on the social media site under the search term ‘borrow tip and tricks’ currently have over 8 billion views. Videos are shared with various hashtags including #borrowed, #steal and #fivefingerdiscount. There are even accounts which have been set up for the sole purpose of sharing these tips.

These tips include ‘don’t get anything with security tags’ and ‘don’t take more than five items per store’. There’s also videos dedicated to listing places where people can hide their ‘borrowed’ goods, along with a video where one shoplifter rates the stores they have stolen from. They give stores, including Asda, Primark, Boots and Wilko a rating out of 10, according to how easy they find it to take items such as make-up, toys and clothing from.

These videos appear to be able to be shared on the platform by using the word borrowing rather than the word stealing as TikTok states it has a “zero tolerance” policy against any videos which support any criminal activity. A spokesperson for the platform said: “We have a zero tolerance for content facilitating or encouraging criminal activities, including theft, as set out in our community guidelines and will remove this content if found.”

Shoplifters are using TikTok to share their tips for stealing items. Photos by TikTok and Adobe Photos. Composite image by NationalWorld/Kim Mogg.Shoplifters are using TikTok to share their tips for stealing items. Photos by TikTok and Adobe Photos. Composite image by NationalWorld/Kim Mogg.
Shoplifters are using TikTok to share their tips for stealing items. Photos by TikTok and Adobe Photos. Composite image by NationalWorld/Kim Mogg.

However, some people who are posting the ‘borrowing tips’ videos are more brazen than others in explaining the true meaning behind their videos. One, for example, is overlaid with the caption ‘how to legally steal’. 

Some videos also give viewers tips on what to do if they are caught stealing from stores, including ‘say you think someone is following you and you purposefully took something to act security’ and ‘pretend you were looking for someone outside if the alarms go off’.

‘It is completely unacceptable’

Fellow shoplifters have also commented on each of the videos offering their own tips and tricks for how to take items without paying for them. One user, for example, commented: “Don’t borrow from small businesses, or places with lots of cameras and security. Go for low security businesses.”

Matt Vickers, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and a former employee at Woolworths and Home Bargains, told The Times: “It is completely unacceptable for online platforms like TikTok to allow content that is enabling and encouraging crime in this way. Many of the ‘creators’ behind these TikToks are misleading their audiences into believing that stealing from a big company has no repercussions. The loss of stock leads to a price hike on the shelves, leaving the everyday customer paying for the losses.”

The videos are being posted at the same time that some major retailers are coming together to introduce Project Pegasus, a system where they pay police to scan shoplifters' faces through the Police National Database, which uses facial recognition technology. Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and the Co-op are among those taking part in the scheme, which they hope will help combat theft from their stores.

This is also not the first time that TikTok has been used to encourage crime. In August, plans for anti-social behaviour on London’s Oxford street were organised via the site.  Several people were arrested after the incident, which took place on Wednesday 9 August, and the actions of those who took part were condemned by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and also Donna Jones, the chairwoman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, who said the event was “incredibly worrying”.

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