‘Scumbag’ thief steals shopping bag with family’s Christmas presents

Debenhams in Colchester. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Debenhams in Colchester. Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

A mum has spoken of her anger at a “scumbag” thief who stole a shopping bag containing nearly £100 worth of Christmas gifts for her family.

Lesley Scotchmer had bought presents for a range of relatives during a last-minute Christmas shopping trip to Colchester on Saturday, December 22, including scarves, a baseball cap, socks and leather gloves, as well as festive decorations.

But even though she and other family members only put the TK Maxx bag down for a moment while shopping in the menswear department of Colchester Debenhams, the gifts were stolen in an instant by an opportunistic thief.

Mrs Scotchmer, who lives in Colchester town centre, desperately looked round the store in the hope of finding the goods after the theft at about 3.20pm - but it was too late.

Debenhams staff later checked the store’s CCTV cameras but the footage did not appear to record the perpetrator.

“I just can’t believe someone would do that at Christmas,” said Mrs Scotchmer.

“If you’re walking round with a big bag of shopping at Christmas, you know they’re likely to be presents. I didn’t think for one second someone would walk up and do that.

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“We were quite angry and we were all just so upset. We were having a nice day and it just ruined it for us. It makes me so angry to think what that scumbag did.

“We’ve tried to re-buy some of the gifts but we only have a certain amount of money to spend, so people aren’t going to get as much as they were going to get.

“We’re more fortunate that we’re not destitute. There are some people out there who have only got £100 in their pocket to spend. If it had happened to someone like that, it would’ve been awful.”

The 50-year-old said she is resigned to the fact she is unlikely to retrieve the goods - but wants to warn others shopping in the upcoming post-Christmas sales of the brazen, opportunistic thieves out there.

“I know I’m not going to get my stuff back, but if it makes people more aware then that’s a good thing,” she said.

“Hopefully it will make people think not to put bags down and not to trust anyone.”

In its Let’s Talk About Christmas Safety leaflet, Essex Police says that: “Busy places make it easier for the sneak thief, so be alert at all times.”

Anyone with information about the incident should contact Essex Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 42/188146/18.

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