Incidents of theft by charity shop employees and volunteers are on the rise, according to a security company that works with some of the biggest charity retailers.
Owain Dale-Jones, managing director of the security company Second Eye, said his firm had uncovered 300 thefts from charity shops by staff or volunteers over the past three years.
He said more charity retailers were turning to its covert CCTV installation service to catch internal thieves. In just one shop the cameras caught six people stealing, he said.
Dale-Jones said he could not name his clients, but he said Second Eye provided services for five of the major charity retailers across the UK and also works for smaller charities on an ad hoc basis.
The 300 incidents of theft included 64 over the past 10 months uncovered using the covert CCTV system. The company identified 60 thefts over the same period in the previous year.
A further 21 thefts in the past 10 months were revealed after investigations into high levels of voids and refunds, tip offs from internal and external sources, and the use of a tracking service.
The tracking service involves putting tracking devices into donation bags that are awaiting collection and then following their movement using the internet.
Dale-Jones said his firm had caught bogus collectors and drivers employed by the charity taking stock to unauthorised rag merchants and taking cash payments for the goods.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Retail Association said it was not aware of any evidence that the number of thefts from charity shops was growing.
"The CRA utterly condemns the activities of a small minority of individuals who target charity shops for theft," she said. "Most people volunteering and working in charity shops are individuals who are there genuinely to support charity and help raise money for good causes.
"Unfortunately, a small number of thefts are conducted or facilitated by shop staff and volunteers; however, we have not seen any evidence that this is any more of a problem than in commercial retailing or that the problem is growing."We are supporting our members to tackle the issue and reduce theft, with advice and guidance, through the production of our comprehensive Security Manual for members and our corporate partnership with the security firm Lodge Service UK."