Limerick shop owner wants mobile phone intimidation declared a crime

Limerick shop owner Shane Gleeson.

A LIMERICK City shop owner has called for using mobile phones to record and intimidate people at work to be made a crime after several such attempts on himself and his staff.

Shane Gleeson, whose family own five Spar convenience stores in Limerick told the Limerick Post that the level of threat, intimidation, and physical attacks on him and his staff has vastly increased in the wake of Covid.

“As late as last Friday, a member of a well-known city gang, who is barred from the shops for appalling behaviour towards staff, threatened to burn the shop down,” Shane claimed.

Seven years ago, Shane’s son – who is the fourth generation of his family in the grocery business – was threatened with a knife while working. On another occasion, a man tried to stab him with a hypodermic needle.

“It was all that time ago, but he still carriers that with him and thinks about it every day,” said Shane.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

The latest plot among what the businessman describes as “a small number of people” in the city involves “causing a fuss and trying to goad the shop staff to say the wrong thing while they are being recorded”.

In some cases, Shane said, this is a prelude to bringing a court case for discrimination or defamation.

“They go at staff for up to an hour at a time, just trying to trap them into saying or doing the wrong thing. Another game is people pretending to steal something and then claiming we accused them of theft and suing.

“They always say they have been accused of stealing but no staff member would ever say that. They would ask ‘can I take for that?'”.

Staff in his shops have been cursed at, insulted, threatened verbally and physically and, on one occasion, a man threatened Shane with a broken bottle.

“It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it stays with you,” he said.

“It’s terrible for staff – one staff member was left in tears after a customer recently and he quit because of it. People are entitled to come to work and not be filmed and intimidated.

“The vast majority of our customers are lovely, respectful people and we enjoy having them. But I really believe that this filming and intimidation problem has to be tackled. It’s only a small number of people but this same kind of behaviour is massive in Dublin.

“We need legislation before this gets any worse,” he concluded.