Business owner wants justice after distraction burglar managed to steal £380 from shop till

Beer village stores. Ref shb 35 17TI 0457. Picture: Terry Ife

Beer village stores. Ref shb 35 17TI 0457. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A shop owner who lost hundreds of pounds when a distraction burglar targeted his store has called for justice.

The Herald previously reported that a number of stores in the Sidmouth and Beer area were targeted by a thief who took more than £600 from shop tills after distracting workers with elaborate stories.

It is believed the criminal started in Sidmouth and worked his way up through the town, visiting various businesses, on Monday, July 24.

Roy Lawless who runs Beer Village Stores, in Fore Street, said his store was targeted at around 1pm. He added he had also heard stores in Lyme Regis and Seaton had been affected.

He said: “I was very disappointed and really angry and frustrated when I realised what had happened. I shared an appeal on Facebook with CCTV images, taken from another shop and within three hours I had been given a name; within 48 hours it had been shared by more than 4,500 people - I have now passed this information on to the police.

“We work really hard and do a lot of hours in the store and for someone to come in and put their hand in the till is really upsetting.

“I would like him to receive the appropriate punishment for what he has done as soon as possible. I am also really keen for other people and owners not to have to go through the same trauma my wife did. It is a lot of money to people like us and nothing to him.”

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Roy’s wife described the man as over 6ft tall, thin, white and in his late 20s with sort reddish hair, blue jeans, dark shoes and a white T-shirt.

Roy, 51, said his wife was alone in the store when the man went in and told her his mother had left her walking stick in the shop.

He added: “He used the name of another woman who works here and said she had put it upstairs. We think he may have seen a name badge on top of the till and used that information to further his story.”

While Roy’s wife was upstairs the man took £380 from the till and left.

“I went to have a look around to see if he was anywhere and perhaps get my money back before he left the village but he was long gone by the time I got out the front door,” he added.

A police spokeswoman said: “No arrests at this time. This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation.”

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting CR/061279/17.