Hundreds of YouTube videos are offering advice to shoplifters on how to steal food and clothing, it has been revealed.
Clips carrying advice such as ‘try to be discreet’ and bring a ‘previously-used bag and receipt’ have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.
The revelations prompted Tui, Britain’s largest tour operator, to suspend its YouTube advertising last night after it and other brands were shown next to the videos.
An investigation by The Times showed one dedicated shoplifting channel even included a link to an online store that sells tools to allow thieves to avoid detection as they make their escape.
Devices include ‘jammers’ that supposedly stop anti-theft gates from detecting tagged items.
Hundreds of YouTube videos are offering advice to shoplifters on how to steal food and clothing, it has been revealed. The revelations prompted Tui, Britain’s largest tour operator, to suspend its YouTube advertising last night after it and other brands were shown next to the videos. (File photo)
Adverts for companies including Amazon, Tui and Hyundai were shown on or alongside videos posted on the channel, suggesting that organisations may have unwittingly funnelled money to shoplifting promoters.
Last night Tui UK announced it had suspended advertising on YouTube while it reviewed its position.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re really disappointed to hear that one of our adverts was featured against content of this nature.
‘We take this very seriously and while we have a range of safety measures in place to minimise the chances of our ads appearing against inappropriate content, we have decided to pause our current YouTube activity so we can review the situation.’
It is the latest scandal to hit the Google-owned company, which has been criticised for promoting a range of inappropriate content.
Google, YouTube’s owner, said that it had tightened its policies. One video, played 160,000 times in the past two years, shows a young couple who say they are walking around an H&M store offering advice on stealing clothes.
They advise thieves to shoplift on Sundays because the shop is empty. The couple enter a changing room, remove a tag from an item of clothing and place it in a bag. They then exit the store bragging of their first ‘successful shoplift together’.
It is the latest scandal to hit the Google-owned company, which has been criticised for promoting a range of inappropriate content. Google, YouTube’s owner, said that it had tightened its policies
In another video a young man recommends stealing items from shelves by waiting until the aisle is clear before turning back and stuffing them into a pocket.
Other popular videos demonstrate how to pick locks and break into cars. Some say they are intended for educational or ‘comedy’ value.
The news comes after a man who went on a shoplifting spree in Somerset last month told police he had been inspired by a YouTube video on how to steal on the high street.
A YouTube spokesman said: ‘We do not allow videos that promote or instruct people to commit a harmful crime. We enforce our policies rigorously and when a violation is brought to our attention, we take swift action.’ YouTube said it had also taken action on the videos that breached the policy.
Last night a National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: ‘Online platforms should ensure that content that enables crime is removed promptly and that they work closely with the police.’
A statement from Hyundai said: ‘If it has happened, we would absolutely not tolerate our advertisements running alongside this type of content.’
Amazon and H&M did not respond.
A Home Office spokeswoman said that websites were expected to ‘act promptly to remove content and user accounts that promote criminality’.
Earlier this month MPs accused YouTube of ‘colluding’ with extremism by failing to take down banned far-right content.
The video-streaming service was shamed for its ‘shocking’ inability to ‘do the basics’ after hate-filled neo-Nazi videos flagged by MPs remained online 15 months after they were first uploaded.
Last year it emerged that the Westminster Bridge terrorist Khalid Masood watched jihadist propaganda on YouTube three days before carrying out the attack.