Gangs of thieves leave Thornbury stores and shoppers thousands of pounds out of pocket
GANGS of thieves have been targetting Thornbury's supermarkets and independent shops over the last month, leaving traders and customers thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Since August, foodstores have been plagued by a spate of serious shoplifting which has caused large losses in just a few hauls, according to police.
The criminals have set their sights on high-value goods such as meat and alcohol as well as less expensive snacks, packets of sweets and fizzy drinks.
PC Sean White, who recently took over the Thornbury and Alveston police beat said it was believed that small gangs were responsible for some thefts.
He warned businesses to set up security and shoppers to remain on their guard.
"I am aware of an increase in thefts locally by both organised groups and local youths causing problems," he said.
"Most of these thefts are from local supermarkets. We have travelling criminals who make their living stealing mostly alcohol and meat – high value items which quickly add up.
"The other problem I've seen is with young people taking fizzy drinks, sweets and snacks. I have arrested two young people and referred them to the Youth Offending Team and a third is on bail pending further enquiries."
Last month, a 30-year-old Bristol woman was charged with theft in Thornbury. She is due to appear before Bristol Magistrates Court in November.
Small boutiques have also fallen victim to shoplifters, including Thornbury Garden Shop and Horders.
Garden Shop owner Sue Aitken told the Gazette several items had vanished from the store four weeks ago.
The most valuable, a heavy stone ornament, was taken in broad daylight on August 12.
"In the last few weeks we've had a big stone model of a Greyhound dog stolen by the gates," she said.
"We put it outside because someone was going to come and collect it. In the space of two hours somebody came by the gate and nicked it. It was certainly somebody with a van who knew what they were doing."
Charity boxes for the Christmas Lights Association and Guide Dogs for the Blind were snatched from Horders on the same day. A week later, thieves struck again, this time taking a reptile bed and packs of seeds from the Garden Shop.
The shoplifters are not stopping at the shelves but also stealing from customers.
On one of instance a shopper's mobile phone was snatched whilst he was out on an errand, according to Rowena Moncrieffe, chairman of Thornbury Chamber of Commerce.
She advised townspeople to be remain vigilant "I think we have to be a bit more alert," she said. "Thefts are on the increase and people should report anything to the police."
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