The owner of a convenience store plagued by thefts has hit out at social media accounts which glorify shoplifting through viral videos.

A group of youngsters ransacked County Oak Post Office in Brighton, stealing hundreds of pounds' worth of vapes and lighters from behind the counter - all while helpless cashier Dimple Amin could do nothing to stop them.

The hooded youths entered the shop under the cover of darkness at 5.40pm on November 13, before approaching the shop counter and pinching boxes of vapes and lighters from behind a tall plexiglass screen.


"Before I could even say anything he stepped up to the counter and put his hand straight in," said Dimple.

He was followed by four other youngsters who took the remaining products, stealing over £210 worth of stock. Dimple frantically tried to claw back the products from the hooded children.

She said: "It was very scary. I tried my best to scare them, I even tried to get one of their jackets but it was a puffa jacket and I couldn't grab it."

The shopkeeper chased after the youths as they left the shop one-by-one, even picking up a discarded umbrella they left outside to scare them off.

"It left me a bit shaken for the rest of my shift," she said.

The Argus: An attacker threatening Dimple with a knife last yearAn attacker threatening Dimple with a knife last year


But this wasn't the first time the shop was the subject of an attack. In February 2022, two young males threatened Dimple at knifepoint demanding money from the till and access to the safe before also being chased from the store by Dimple and a colleague.

Co-owner Ash Amin told The Argus: "It is not just our shop. All along Carden Avenue they are being affected by this.

"It is up to the police to do something about it. It's been two weeks since I've heard from them and I've told the officer that if nothing happens then I'll have to sort it out myself and find out who they are.

"I've worked here for 13 years and I took over from my uncle who had the shop for 26 years - We've never had any problems until now."

Ash believes that the uptick in young children using - and being influenced by - social media has caused the spike in thefts at his shop.

"People are not parenting their kids properly. They have no knowledge of what they are up to. I see some as young as 10 smoking.

"There are videos on social media of people just running in and looting shops, which encourages them to do it.

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"They think it makes them look cool - but the government needs to be banning people from posting things like this.

"They see videos which shows them how to work the law. They know they will get a caution and that's it, and two weeks later they will be out causing trouble again.

"We need more police officers and the law to be tightened."

The shopkeeper called on lawmakers to introduce a new community service scheme, which sees shop thieves forced to work and repay the value of the items they had stolen - with the money being fed back into good community causes.

"There is no point claiming on my insurance because of my excess. I need the police to help me."

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "Police are investigating a report of a burglary at a Post Office in Carden Avenue, Brighton, on Monday, 13 November.

"A group of young people were reported to have stolen vapes and cigarette lighters from behind the counter at around 5.35pm.

"Officers have engaged with the owners of the store, identified several suspects and are working with partners in the youth offending service to take appropriate action."