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A lack of moral teaching in the home was largely responsible for an increase in shoplifting by children, Portsmouth’s Crime Prevention Officer told a meeting of newsagents.

‘Children whose fathers take things from work as perks, and whose aunty works in a supermarket and under-rings mum, come to accept it as part of life,’ Sergeant VG Hardy told owners of newsagents.

Much of the shoplifting done by children occurred when they were unsupervised, he added.

He advised shopkeepers to take children to the police station in cases of theft, however young they were since they may have been in need of care and attention.

One shopkeeper said if he took all the children he caught shoplifting to the police station another school could have started there.