Nearly 80 pensioners have been arrested in Sunderland and East Durham for shoplifting in the last two years.
In total 300 have been nicked on various charges and charity workers suggest the recession is driving them to crime.
Age Concern spokesman Les Young said: “The basic state pension of £92 a week is too low for people to live on.
“Basic foodstuffs, utility bills, transport and other daily costs have risen with no proper increase in benefits for those who need them most.
“We are starting to see older people shoplifting to get by.”
However, Alan Patchett, director of Age Concern Sunderland, said the number arrested for shoplifting was a very small minority of Wearside’s elderly population.
He added: “My message would be that if people are that desperate, come and talk to us.
“We can offer help with benefits, keeping homes warm, and have all sorts of support mechanisms.”
New figures have revealed that seven octogenarians were among those who had their collars felt in Sunderland, with the oldest being an 86-year-old suspected of shoplifting.
Taken from Sunderland Echo