‘Forget Leighton’s Shopwatch, I’m using Whatsapp to fight crime’

CCTV from Get Up Clothing
CCTV from Get Up Clothing

A frustrated shop owner has criticised police and Leighton Buzzard’s Shopwatch campaign after her shop was targeted by thieves.

Get Up Clothing in Hockliffe Street supplies designer menswear and has enjoyed success in Leighton Buzzard since it opened last year.

But its owner has been left disheartened after thieves made off with a stash of clothing twice – first in November with the offenders coming back on January 20.

Now the owner has shared CCTV footage online.

She told the LBO: “I hadn’t heard anything from police until last Thursday.

“My dad messaged the police and crime commissioner and that seems to have sent off a few alarm bells. I got a phonecall from police, but they were ringing about the email – not the crime itself!”

The shop owner was busy serving a customer on Friday, February 20 when a group of teenagers walked into the store. She thought she could recognise three boys from the previous incident.

One approached her.

“He said ‘We’re not thieves’ and for a few seconds I wasn’t sure what was happening.”

While she was distracted, two girls in the group allegedly lifted three pairs of jeans valued at around £45 each, before making off.

The owner said: “We’re supposed to all be part of Shopwatch but nothing has happened. I personally have gone round, taken the numbers of other businesses and set up a Whatsapp group just to keep everyone informed.”

Shopwatch was launched as a joint initiative by Leighton-Linslade Town Council and Bedfordshire Police just three months ago, designed as a meeting for retailers to share their concerns and receive “tailored crime prevention advice” from police.

But already, the LBO understands the initiative has flopped and an alternative scheme is being launched by Central Bedfordshire Council.

Cllr Tony Morris, chairman of the town council’s police liaison committee, said: “I would certainly concur that Shopwatch is not active enough.”