'No Excuse' For Teenage Looters In London

A gang who took part in looting in London and spoke to Sky News about their theft have been told there is "no excuse" for their actions.

The Communities Secretary has dismissed claims that they stole from shops because the Government is not doing enough to help them.

The four teenagers who looted in neighbourhoods across London told Sky News it was like a 'shopping spree'.

Speaking on condition of anonymity the group admitted that they stole iPads, Blackberry tablets, games consoles, laptops, clothes, trainers and even nappies and clothes for their children.

One teenager appealed for the Ministers to help them and said: "They say are going to help us but I don't see any of it, there has to be more opportunities and jobs.

"Help us at least and then maybe everyone will settle down."

But Eric Pickles rejected their arguments out of hand.

"I think that is them trying to justify being thiefs, robbers and burglars," he told Sky News.

"I think it's retrospective justification.

"It sounds to me like they have been talking to their social worker and picked up the jive about them being repressed.

"I was brought up in a home much more humble than the home they showed and I think they have absolutely no excuse."

The young men, all aged 16 or 17, told Sky that they are not part of an organised gang but just disillusioned teenagers who cannot find work.

They claim they used a transit van to move between different boroughs and grabbed so many different items that the van was filled several times over and emptied between their sprees.

One aged 16 said: "Everything we wanted we could get.

"I couldn't believe the van could hold so much stuff."

They admitted spending two nights looting in their home borough of Lewisham but also went to Catford, Bromley and Clapham.

A 17-year-old said he stopped in Clapham Junction solely to target a store where he had been refused work.

He said: "It was Comet - they didn't reply to me emailing my CV, or going up there so this was payback man, payback."

The teens told Sky News their parents were unaware of their activities. One said he had been told to stay in his bedroom but climbed out of the window to join in the looting.

They claim to have stashed their haul at the homes of friends and to have already sold goods on the black market.

One said he had got £400 for a Blackberry tablet on the Gumtree website.

Another, wearing a pair of stolen Nike trainers, said: "Right now it looks like there isn't a future for young people, that's how I see it."

He added: "We are not doing it for the fun of it, we are doing it for money to survive."

None of the group was concerned about the unprecedented police efforts to catch those responsible.

Because there were so many people looting they believed their chances of not getting caught were "quite good."

The Met Police have arrested over a thousand people across the capital and have vowed that there will be many more as they trawl through CCTV and other evidence.

The teenagers, speaking on the banks of the Thames opposite the financial centre of Canary Wharf, said they believe inequality is part of the problem.

Referring to wealthy bankers and businessmen, one said: "They are only interested in one pocket, not ours, the pocket over there."

All insisted they have been doing voluntary work while applying for jobs but often their job applications are not even acknowledged.

Deputy London Mayor Kit Malthouse also condemned their actions, saying: "There are tens of thousands of young people, black and white, who come from similar backgrounds who do not do this kind of thing.

"They work hard, try to get more prosperous and participate in society in a legitimate way.

"I don't think we should allow these excuses to stand for what was venal criminality."

:: Watch Looters, a special half-hour programme on Sky News tonight at 7.30.