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'I'll hire my own private investigator' - Oxfam volunteer hits out at police after purse theft from Wolverhampton shop

By Alex Ross | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published:

A charity shop volunteer has criticised police for their ‘lack of urgency’ to deal with a thief who stole a purse from an elderly woman in his Wolverhampton city centre store.

The Oxfam charity shop on Victoria Street. Picture: Google StreetView

Simon Bowen was behind the till desk at Oxfam charity shop in Victoria Street when an 85-year-old had the purse, with £85 inside, taken from her bag.

He called 101 to report the crime, followed by another phone call to Wolverhampton’s Bilston Street Police Station to provide more information from CCTV.

But when the store called up the police station the following day, Mr Bowen said it was told the force had no record of the crime. Last Monday, he said he called two police officers into the store to show the CCTV, but they were also unaware of the theft.

Mobile phone footage of the CCTV was sent to the force, yet this has been deemed of ‘insufficient quality’ and the store has been asked to resend it.

Mr Bowen, aged 44, who has volunteered at the charity shop since June, said: “I understand the police are under resourced, but it is no excuse for inefficiency.

“The people who did this are probably already known to the police. They should be on top of this quickly, not letting the days go by, it shows a lack of urgency.”

He added: “I’m even tempted to hire my own private investigator to get these people caught. This has hardly left me with any confidence.”

Last week the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services rated West Midlands Police inadequate for for crime recording, claiming 38,000 crimes reported to the force went unrecorded every year. But the police hit back, claiming the findings were wrong and that a large number of incidents had in fact been recorded ‘but were not classified correctly’.

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A West Midlands Police spokesman said the force was alerted to the theft of a purse at the charity shop on August 30.

A spokesman said: “Initial CCTV images were deemed to be of insufficient quality to obtain an identification of the offender, however we have been told there is better quality footage. We are now awaiting receipt of this to progress an investigation.”

An Oxfam spokesman said: “We can confirm an incident took place at the Victoria Street shop which has been reported to the police. We are waiting to hear the results of their investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

The shop installed CCTV in response to daily thefts earlier this year.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
@alexross_star

Chief Reporter at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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