Midlothian Co-op bans schoolchildren after rise in shoplifting

A Midlothian supermarket has been forced to ban all schoolchildren from its premises due to “an alarming increase” in shoplifting.

By Alexander Lawrie
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 2:56 pm

Gangs of children have been raiding the Co-op store in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, leading the management to issue an immediate “blanket ban” on all youngsters.

The unruly pupils have been branded “feral” by fed up locals and have been blamed for hassling pensioners and helping themselves to goods.

Manager Glen Collin took to social media to inform the community of the company’s decision to deny entry to all children from the town.

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Banned: School children are no longer welcome in the Co-op in Bonnyrigg

He posted: “Whilst I understand you are frustrated with our decision (which is only temporary) we did have to take some form of action.

“We have seen an alarming increase in the amount of shoplifting and also inappropriate behaviour.

“We informed the school to allow them to inform all pupils in the hope the blanket ban would encourage pupils to think twice about their actions and apply some peer pressure to others.

“Since this happened we have been seeing a further increase in shoplifting both prior to school and more so after school.

“This has been individuals and groups and not just one thing - one female filled her pockets four times when we reviewed CCTV. Three males then came in with all of them pocketing something.

“We also have numerous elderly customers who are still very wary - after two years of pandemic rules - of large groups of kids especially when [they are] jumping about, shouting at each other and swearing.

“I hope we can welcome the pupils back in soon but please help be ensuring your kids are aware of why this happened and also support us to improve the situation by reinforcing that the minority have ruined it for the rest.”

Locals have backed the supermarket’s decision to implement the ban and have slammed the children’s behaviour.

Andy Clark, 58, said: “This has been going on for a few weeks now and to be quite frank the kids round here are out of control.

“The stealing is bad enough but their attitude and language is horrific. Well done to the store for trying to do something about them.”

And Moira Tait, 61, added: “The school and the parents have done next to nothing to stop these feral kids running riot. It is quite scary to be in the shop when they all swarm in.

“I’m really glad the Co-op is taking action as this has been going on for far too long.”

A Co-op spokesperson said: “Following a spate of anti-social behaviour we have introduced a temporary measure to ensure a safe and enjoyable shopping environment for colleagues and customers.”

Last month, the Co-op in Lochgelly, Fife took a similar step in an attempt to cut out issues being caused by youths.

A temporary ban for under-16s was put in place after staff “reached the end of their tether”.

A spokesperson said: “Due to the recent volume of anti-social behaviour, shoplifting and general abuse towards management and staff, with immediate effect no under-16s will be allowed entry to the store.”