Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Since When: Did Being a Celeb Give You a Free Reign to Shoplift?

You couldn't have missed yesterday's reports regarding former Ready Steady Cook chef and purveyor of bad cookware, Anthony Worrall Thompson's arrest for shoplifting.

Most reacted with hilarity at the reports of him pinching food from his local Tesco in Henley (that's near me!), with best tweet going to HerMelness:

HerMelness Speaks
Um, stealing food. A little like stealing bras, no?

I did for a bit, until I read the full report into his crime. It seems he didn't just help himself to posh (for Tesco) cheese and wine via the old Five Finger Discount trick one time.

No, it's reported that the store detectives and staff watched him on 5 separate occasions being a slippery old thief before they acted and informed the local Police. 

Erm, why?

I cannot be the only one who wondered why the store would let someone walk through the door, knowing full well they have pinched high value stock, on 5 visits, without even questioning him.

It kind of makes what Nancy experienced (and the others who commented similar experiences) even harder to fathom. If you aren't aware of what happened to fellow Blogger Nancy, read the full post and comments, but basically what happened was, she went in her local Tesco store, used a self service checkout (so far, so similar), and despite having not nicked anything (that's where the comparison ends), was carted in full view to the back of the store and accused of all sorts.

I understand that they wanted to be sure, but surely that is the point of CCTV, and it didn't require viewing this behaviour 5 times before they did something about it. I know myself that, should it have been me pinching from my local store, they would have apprehended me straight away. 

So, why doesn't the same apply if you are an (albeit minor) celebrity? 

It also baffles me that, when the store finally reported him to the Police, they didn't drag him through the courts as you'd expect. After all, he is a repeat offender- how many other smaller outlets has he stolen from? How many other places are embarrassed to report him? 

In my mind, a formal caution wouldn't have been given to Joe Bloggs from Normaltown. Let's be honest here-  quite a number of those who shoplift have good reason for doing so. They are really that badly off that it seems like their only option. They may be a young parent struggling to feed a child, or a drug addict stealing to feed a habit. If they were caught after repeated thefts, I'm sure they would have been up before the courts within seconds of being interviewed and charged at the Police station, regardless of who they are or their reasons.

I think the government needs to make enquiries. I have no sympathy for someone who does it for the thrill (I'm sure he's not skint) and frankly, I hope next time he does it, they lock him up.

What's your view?


  1. I agree with everything you say, up to your last paragraph. How do we know that he did it for a thrill?
    Many years ago, before, I suspect you were born, Lady Isabel Barnett, an esteemed TV personality of the era, was also picked up for shoplifting.
    I believe in her case and, possibly, Anthony's, she was unwell and I suppose it was a cry for help.
    Should we prejudge, before we know the facts?

  2. Hmm, good point Lynda. I think I'm generalising because there are quite a few celebs who have been caught and I suppose to someone like myself (who has also suffered mental illness in the past), I don't see it as a cry for help if they are quite well off so easily able to gain help without having to resort to petty theft. I think it just annoys me that all but one of the 5 cries for help went unreported! But yes, fair point, and I wait to see what action he takes to help himself in future (no pun intended).


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