Sidmouth shop worker thwarts distraction burglar


Police - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth shop worker has described the moment he thwarted a suspected distraction thief who had already taken £600 from other outlets.

Tom Turner, who works at Woolbrook News, says a ‘genuine-looking’ man approached him and told him he was looking for his mother’s very important and valuable walking stick.

Although he did not realise it at the time, Tom now believes he had been speaking to the same suspect who struck at three shops in Sidmouth and Beer on the same morning.

Police say the thief, who has not been caught, was described as between 5ft 10ins to 6ft 3ins in height, white and wearing a navy T-shirt, jeans and a maroon-coloured, zipped hoody. He is believed to be around 40 to 45-years-old.

Tom said the man went into the store around mid-morning on Monday, July 24, adding: “He came in and said his mother had lost this really important, valuable walking stick.

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“He said someone had told him they had put it in a safe place upstairs, but we don’t use upstairs.

“He then pretended to ring his mother before telling me she had come in on an afternoon and spoke to another man, but I am the only man that works here and we were closed that afternoon. Something just didn’t add up.

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“He said he was going to get his mother, but never came back.

“He looked quite genuine - like most people do - and I didn’t think anything of it until I saw something in the Herald.”

The Herald previously reported how three other incidents took place on the same Monday when a man used similar tactics at Sweet Temptations and Sidsoft in Sidmouth and the Village Store in Fore Street, Beer.

Detective Inspector Grant Leitch said: “I urge the public to be vigilant in recognising when an offender is attempting to exploit people’s better nature. In this instance, the offender asked for assistance purely to distract the victim and thereby make it a viable theft to complete. Clearly, one always wishes to help people, but I recommend calling upon colleagues to ensure that tills and cash desks are not left unattended.”

Anyone with any information should call police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or email quoting crime number CR/061279/17.

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