STEALING from a shop could affect you for the rest of your life.

Shoplifting is a criminal offence and anyone caught helping themselves to goods faces prosecution and ultimately a criminal record.

It may seem like harmless fun as a teenager, but think of the consequences you will face.

Most shops and stores have CCTV cameras and a dedicated security team, major shopping centres are also covered by a network of cameras and stores share information about suspected thieves.

It means that if you help yourself to goods without paying, the chances are someone will be watching.

As a shoplifter you will be arrested on suspicion of theft, probably handcuffed and put in a police car or van. You will be transported to a police station where your fingerprints will be taken. If you are under 17 your parents will be called and have to attend the police station.

If charged you will have to attend court where you could be fined or even given a custodial sentence.

The maximum penalty for theft from a shop is seven years imprisonment.

Once convicted you will have a criminal record which could have a devastating impact on your future:


Some countries will not allow entry for those with a criminal past. Imagine being left at home while your family jet off for break in the US.


Many jobs require Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks, employers may choose someone with a clean record over someone who does not.


Your music career takes off, or you win a sport scholarship in another country. But you have to watch your band, or your teammates head off to fulfil their dreams while you rue the day you decided to shoplift.

Shoplifting - Going abroad

Shoplifting - Work

Search Cambridgeshire Constabulary