Police have released CCTV of suspects in the theft from a Londis shop in Stanley Street, Bedford on Thursday, November 6.
At 2.44pm that afternoon the shop owner noticed some of her stock was missing following a visit to the shop by a large group of eastern European men and women who had been in the shop some 20 minutes earlier. She contacted the Police who, having ascertained that the alleged offenders had already left the shop and that she was at no immediate risk of harm circulated the shop owner’s descriptions to officers in the area so they could search for them and arranged an appointment to interview her further and collect CCTV.
PC Julie Jennings, investigating, said: “At between 2.08 and 2.23pm on Thursday afternoon two groups of men and women entered the store separately and spread
out, picking things up and putting them back, shopping for small items and paying, distracting the shop owner who was busy on one of the tills. One of the females, wearing a cream body-warmer, approached the unsecured store room at the rear of the shop and entered. There they have forced open a cabinet containing cigarettes and stolen quantities of several brands totally £3,200 and then left the store. Once this woman had left the premises the rest of the group also left quickly.
“The shop owner did not realise that her store room had been raided until about
2.44pm, some twenty minutes later and she then alerted the police. As the offenders had left the premises and there were no threats made to the shop staff, the descriptions supplied by the caller were distributed to officers in the area and a Scenes of Crime Officer attended the location later that evening.
“A statement and CCTV footage were collected on Saturday afternoon and stills from the CCTV have now been released as part of the investigation. Anyone with information can contact Bedfordshire Police on the 101 number.
“Combatting theft from shops is always a tricky task but shop owners can help reduce the chances of them being targeted by taking some preventative measures. “The use of CCTV cameras is a good deterrent especially if the shop is well lit and also makes use of security mirrors. Well trained and alert staff also form the basis of good crime prevention. If a potential thief is identified then making the suspect aware of this will often be enough to deter crime. Drawing unwanted attention to the suspect, such as asking if they are ok or did they want any help, can also make them think again.
“However, we would never recommend anyone to put themselves in any sort of danger and to call the police immediately if they have been the victim of crime.”
The group of two men and four women are described as Romanian Gypsies of varying ages.
Anyone with information relating to this incident can contact PC Julie Jennings, in confidence, at Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.
Alternatively you can contact the independent crime fighting charity, Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.