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Crouch End charity shop manager catches thief red-handed

PUBLISHED: 15:04 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:13 18 August 2017

Victoria Vickers pursued a shoplifter through Crouch End after a colleague spotted him walk out of the Shelter Boutique wearing a top he hadn't paid for. Picture: David Winskill

Victoria Vickers pursued a shoplifter through Crouch End after a colleague spotted him walk out of the Shelter Boutique wearing a top he hadn't paid for. Picture: David Winskill

Archant

A shoplifter who stole from a charity has met his match after being pursued through the streets by a shop manager.

Shop manager Victoria Vickers rushed into a cafe in Topsfield Parade when she saw three policemen enter. Picture: David Winskill Shop manager Victoria Vickers rushed into a cafe in Topsfield Parade when she saw three policemen enter. Picture: David Winskill

Victoria Vickers was working at the Shelter boutique in Crouch End when a colleague raised the alarm after spotting a man leaving the store in a red Superdry sweatshirt which moments before had been hanging on a rail.

The former retail security guard rushed out of the Broadway store, saw the culprit yards away passing Cafe Beam and gave chase.

“I just went after him,” Ms Vickers said. “I’m very good at assessing situations. I don’t put myself at risk.”

Ms Vickers followed a short distance behind the 50-year-old man keeping him in sight the entire time as she phoned the police.

Ms Vickers estimated the Shelter Boutique loses about £800 a year through shoplifting. Picture: David Winskill Ms Vickers estimated the Shelter Boutique loses about £800 a year through shoplifting. Picture: David Winskill

However, the 999 call centre operator told her she couldn’t guarantee an officer would attend, but at that very moment Ms Vickers spotted three policemen heading into a cafe in Topsfield Parade.

“I said to them, ‘Forget your lunch, I’m in pursuit of a man who has stolen goods from my shop,’” Ms Vickers said.

The thief was handcuffed and searched by the officers after Ms Vickers led them to Tottenham Lane’s Coop where the unsuspecting shoplifter had stopped.

According to Ms Vickers – who has worked for Shelter for four years – the thief’s trousers were full from the waist to the ankles with lipsticks and mascaras.

Besides the stolen sweater, he also had a second top, worth another £9.99, and a carrier bag full of cosmetics, a haul Ms Vickers estimated to be worth about £150.

“He wasn’t aggressive or anything. People are clearly desperate sometimes,” she said.

But Monday morning’s pursuit was not the first time Ms Vickers had encountered light-fingered criminals.

“I go after people all the time if I think they’re stealing. If I think I can tackle them I do, otherwise I just follow them.

“It’s a shame we can’t have more police on the beat and that’s partly down to cut backs. If I can do my bit for the community, then I will,” she added.

In total Ms Vickers – who lives in Enfield – estimates the store loses about £800 a year through shoplifting with the highest priced item – a Chanel satin top with a recommended retail price of £550 – losing the store £99 after it was stolen in a previous incident.

Paul Mangal pleaded guilty to a charge of theft on appearance at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Monday. He was fined £50 and ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge.

A Met spokesman said: “The police rely on information from the public to help us carry out our work and we thank the caller for her assistance.

“The Met’s committed response time for a call of this nature would be for officers to be on scene within 60 minutes.

“Police receive numerous calls from the public during the course of a day. These are graded according to their circumstances, including whether there is an immediate threat to an individual’s safety.

“Calls requiring immediate police attendance are given priority over others,” he added.

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