An angry shop owner is so fed up with teenage thieves at his store he’s taken to spraying them with a water gun.
CCTV footage shows the man blasting a teen in the face as the youngster appears to steal an e-cigarette from a cabinet in his shop.
The teen reaches inside the cabinet and then runs off with another boy after being sprayed.
The owner of Just Vapours and other shops say ‘feral’ youths are making life a misery for residents and businesses in Hyde, Greater Manchester.
They claim locals are being intimidated by anti-social yobs, led by five ‘ringleaders’, and they have been left out of pocket due to thefts, the Manchester Evening News reported.
Some business owners have considered shutting up shop for good.
As well as shoplifting, traders in the town centre say they have been forced to endure verbal and physical abuse and vandalism.
Shash Mistry, who runs a Subway store in Hyde town centre, said yobs regularly harass him and his staff.
He added: “They come in, groups of around five or six lads, messing around. You tell them to stop or to leave, but they just don’t listen.
“The staff are scared, there’s half a dozen of them and only staff behind the counter. They’re outnumbered, they can’t do anything.
“They’ll harass you, swear at you and throw things. When they come in, some will try and block your view while the others steal things.”
He shared CCTV footage from earlier this month, in which a group of youths – some hooded – could be distracting staff before walking out with crisps and drinks.
Shash added: “They came back in an hour or so later, one of my employees said to them if they were going to pay for what they took earlier and they responded by throwing a packet of crisps at them. They have no respect.”
Police say they are doing all they can, but admit they just don’t have the resources to tackle petty crime like they used to.
Constant cuts to funding have left almost skeleton staffing in some areas, with officers having to prioritise more serious cases, or those where there’s a higher risk of harm.
Neighbourhood beat officer for Werneth and Godley PC Ian Thompson said he and his colleagues are doing the best they can with the resources available.
But officers need support from the council and social care teams, he added.
A gang of around 20 teenagers is thought to be responsible for the upheaval. Some are as young as 10, PC Thompson said.
He said there are five ‘ringleaders’ in the group and at least two of them arrested every week.
He added: “The others aren’t really causing crime, they’re just there and they run off when we turn up.
“If we can get rid of the ringleaders, that’s one part of the problem gone.”
PC Thompson warned that it is not just teenagers that could end up in trouble, as their parents could be fined and issued parental behaviour orders.