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Police appeal after string of distraction thefts across Cornwall

Police appeal after string of distraction thefts across Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 2:27pm 22nd April 2018. (Updated at 7:06am 23rd April 2018)

A police appeal has gone out after a string of reports of alleged distraction thefts across Cornwall.

Numerous businesses say they have been victim to such crimes in recent weeks, from Penzance to Looe.

Pirate FM told you how a warning went out to west Cornwall after reports in St Ives, Hayle and Penzance.

Now officers in Wadebridge have released CCTV of a man they want to speak to in connection to reports.

Helen Mantell owns The Beach Shack in Looe and says she was targeted last week.

She says a man took £200 from the till when he asked her to look for a walking stick that his mum had left behind.

Helen told Pirate FM: "I'll be a lot more suspicious from now on, which is really sad, because we often get people leaving things, it's normal.

"I'm going to be a lot more careful and I will certainly not be leaving the shop floor even for a second.

"To be honest, it's been an absolutely terrible season for small businesses, so while yes it could have been a lot worse, it's damaging enough for a small business to lose that.

"Whilst we'll do our best to absorb that, I think that is enough to see some small businesses go under."


Now Wadebridge Police has released images of a man they want to speak to in relation to a report in the town.

Devon and Cornwall Police are advising people to be vigilant.

This is not the first message in relation to the offence, as the force issued a warning after a number of reports of distraction thefts across West Cornwall on Wednesday.

The Save the Children charity shop in Wadebridge was targeted and lost a days takings after a man claimed his mother left something in the shop and he had come back to get it.

As the staff tried to find it item he then reportedly took a large amount of money.

The Facebook appeal from officers has already had over 1,000 shares.

Police Community Support Officer said: "Devon and Cornwall Police are asking everyone to be on their guard following a number of distraction thefts which have been occurring yesterday and today. 

"Save the Children charity shop in Wadebridge had their days takings stolen by a male.

"He alleged that his mother had left an item in the shop and he was back to collect it.

"When the staff were looking for the item, he helped himself to a large sum of money.

"Similar reports have come in from other locations throughout Cornwall.

"The crime number for the Wadebridge incident is:- CR/033348/18. Anyone spotting this male is urged to contact Police immediately."


Devon and Cornwall Police has this advice to help tackle shop lifting:

Things you can consider that may help to help protect your business, yourself and your staff.

This is not an exhaustive list but please consider:

  • CCTV which must be appropriate and fit for your purpose (one size definitely does not fit all).  See our section on CCTV for more information.
  • Signage – appropriate signs regarding the presence of operational CCTV and the positive action you will take against offenders.
  • The design and layout of your premises.  You may be a Manager governed by higher management but it doesn’t stop you from submitting ideas and proposals for change if there are problems to be solved e.g. if you are targeted for the theft of an item that you have been instructed to display near to entry/exit, propose a change and make it happen!
  • Staff training in how to react (staff safety is paramount and they are key to your defence against shoplifters) and use the practical tools made available e.g. appropriately placed mirrors, radios, who and how to make contact with for assistance.
  • Train staff to be observant and remember details to assist investigation or contribute to intelligence to capture regular (career) criminals or organised gangs.  See D&C leaflet – ID guide
  • What restrictions you may need to use if you have fitting rooms in your premises e.g. regular checks, monitoring of customers and items taken into the fitting room, are all goods returned to you or purchased (thieves will remove tags or labels quite often before they leave)? 
  • Taking action after you identify a theft has occurred – do something to stop it happening again.  Remember to make your changes obvious so that the returning thieve(s) notice you have taken action.
  • Display empty containers or boxes with the expensive item secured elsewhere.
  • Store security, independent or as part of a partnership with other businesses nearby. (Employ your own secruity or join with local businesses and secure the area against theives.)
  • Joining the police community messaging system to get information and alerts.  NB:  A Business Resilience Partnership (BRP) or Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) will have this integrated into the scheme.
  • Consider joining or setting up a Business Resilience Partnership (BRP) or Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP).  

Find more advice here.

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