Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Stop Thief


I was interested to read Inspector Gadgets comment yesterday about centralised police call taking, it took me back to when I had my business, I thought it was detrimental to the town when the facility for the public to be able to speak to the local police station was taken away; the people answering the phone just had so much local knowledge.

I suppose this tale must be about 9 years old now (things are always older than you think) just before CCTV came to town; so I best file it as a sepia tale.

I owned a shop and I had a fantastic manager, called Lucy she was (is) totally honest and trust worthy, just the sort of person you want looking after your till. She also expects this of everyone else as well (also a great attribute for an employee to have.)

At that time it was a common scam for fraudsters to come into the shop, buy a card or a £1.95 bunch of spray carnations, tender a forged £20 note at the till, be given £18:05 in ‘real money’ as change and then scarper leaving the shop with a duff £20.

We were pretty good at spotting this, it particularly annoyed us because, it was crooks from the cities that used to try this on and we didn’t like being taken for ‘country bumpkins.’

One day some one managed to slip a ‘good’ fake past Lucy, but something made her open the till and do a double take on the £20 and we all agreed, it was a convincing fake, but a fake never the less, so we rang the local police station on our nice little five figure phone number (no need for 999 we felt) gave the details and then Lucy and I went out into the street to see if we could see the fraudster. We met on the street corner a PC and the young traffic warden Gary, (rule number one of retail; always maintain excellent relations with traffic wardens and refuse collectors, both have the capacity to bring your business to a grinding halt.)

We decided to split up and see if we could spot the crook; moments latter Lucy was by my side ‘I’ve found him!’

‘He’s outside Woolworths’ we set off in the direction of Woollies, with me ringing the police as we go. I expected Lucy to do a ‘don’t look now but that’s him over there’ sort of manoeuvre, but instead she bowled straight up to him (she was very cross, she didn’t like being conned one little bit) reaching up (he was tall she is small) she wagged her finger in his face, ‘It was you wasn’t it you just gave me a fake £20!’

For me the world froze, I thought she was going to get a punch in the face or a knife in the ribs, but the man spun on his heels and legged it up the street. Lucy set off after him, in my hand my mobile is saying ‘Hello, police, can I help?’ So with me running behind trying to keep up and communicate to the police at the same time the dialogue went along the lines of ‘He going past the Boot’s, gasp, ‘now he’s by the Job Centre’, wheeze ‘he’s just gone past Iceland’ pant. ‘Don’t worry luv we are on or way’ was the calm reply; in the distance I could here sirens.

Coming the opposite direction up the street is Gary the traffic warden, Lucy is shouting ‘It’s him; stop him!’ Arms out and jumping from left to right like a goal keeper Gary does his best to try and fell the thief, but the thief dodges past him (had this incident taken place later in the day, when the big guys from quarries or the even bigger hauliers were in town, we would have had no trouble getting him felled (as it was the street was full of little old ladies in beige coats who seemed to arrive every by the coach load every Wednesday afternoon and bought nothing but loo rolls from the pound shop, but you would have thought they could have tripped him up with their walking sticks.)

Lucy gave up her chase at the roundabout but Gary kept on through the park, across the river and up in to the council estate, where sadly he lost him. (We later heard that he conned a little old lady into getting him a taxi because he had ‘a heart condition’ and ‘needed to get home to his medicine.’) Back at the shop the PC took down the details from us, over his radio we could hear the panting and gasping Gary being asked if he need a patrol car to be sent to take him back to the station.

A few months later Gary left his job as traffic warden as signed up a police officer and as far as I know he is chasing baddies to this day!

Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

9 thoughts on “Stop Thief

  1. It still happens! We had a duff Scottish £50- note taken in the bookshop recently. Luckily we were pretty sure that it was the owner himself who accepted it!
    When one of the banks got robbed some months back the police car took a good twenty minutes to arrive. The police station is all of two minutes walk away!
    I never know if I should laugh or cry nowadays.

  2. Fantastic Blog – just found it and will be back.

  3. Welcome Inspector G, call in for a brew any time you are passing.

    Flighty, goodness a Scottish £50! I didn’t know they were allowed out!
    The fact that each Scottish bank prints its own notes (well it used to) is if you pardon the pun a ‘license to print money’ it makes it very difficult to spot the duff ones.

    Re response times and the emergency services, I know little about the police and only a smidge about the ambulance service, but friends who know more than me, tell me they go from weeks of ‘rubbish jobs’ and ‘no jobs’ to being ‘hammered’ with difficult and traumatic call coming in thick and fast. I don’t know how you staff for that, but if you need something 999, you need it now!

    Looking at our local paper over the last few weeks it is easy to see the local
    emergency services have been ‘hammered’ with this sort of call
    along with ‘jobs’ so harrowing that I can’t help but think the effects of dealing with them will be ‘staying’ with the crew/officers for years to come.

  4. (Reading back through your posts 😉 )

    Very impressed with Gary! 🙂 You must have had a brilliant relationship with him (round Bristol way you seem to be lucky if they will move on the pavement to let someone with a buggy go past!)

    “I don’t know how you staff for that, but if you need something 999, you need it now!”

    Where I used to live in Bristol, we had a gang of kids climb onto our flat roof (joined flats, four in a row – elderly couple on the end). We were fairly certain that one of them was armed with a knife. When I dialled 999, the call person took my details, then called back three hours later to ask if it was “still an emergency”!

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  6. Don’t knock little old ladies. I know a couple of them who took great offence at a pair of armed robbers who ran out of a post office and took pot shots at the first two police officers to arrive. The little old ladies took them to with walking sticks and shopping bags of tinned food.

    I know some people will say it was foolish and could have gone very wrong, but it meant the officers weren’t shot and were able to overpower the robbers. The ladies weren’t injured either.

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