London

Young boy 'helped men steal from charity shop'

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Media captionYoung boy 'helped men steal from charity shop'

A boy as young as five was enlisted by two men to steal from a charity shop in a distraction theft, police said.

Officers released CCTV footage of a man appearing to instruct the boy to take a mobile phone from behind the till of a Cancer Research store in Wimbledon.

A second man is said to have been distracting staff.

The Metropolitan Police has urged anyone with information on the alleged theft, which took place on 11 October, to contact them.

CCTV footage shows the group leaving the shop with the charity shop worker's mobile phone stuffed down the child's trousers and ladies' clothing which had not been paid for.

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Image copyright The Metropolitan Police
Image caption Police have released images of the two men they wish to speak with

Robin Osterley, CEO of the Charity Retailers Association, said stealing from a charity shop is a "particularly heinous crime".

He said: "There's a view that stealing from charity shops is a victimless crime because items are donated but it's tantamount to taking money out of a charity box.

"People are striving often voluntarily to raise money for charities and if someone comes in and starts nicking their stuff it can be very dispiriting."

He also said money that could be spent on good causes is lost through theft or the cost of installing improved security systems in shops.

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