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Building yard thief is a cool customer
A slick walk-in thief has added insult to injury by stealing cash from a builders merchants months after its owner suffered a crippling accident.
Will Patchett, who owns Groundforce Builders Merchants in Shipley, was upstairs with a badly-broken foot when the fashionably-dressed raider calmly walked into the shop below and made off with £480 from the till.
In January, the Telegraph & Argus told how Mr Patchett endured an hour-long wait for an ambulance after falling 7ft from a fence and shattering the bones in his right ankle.
And on Wednesday lunchtime, he and Groundforce manager Darren Ball were in conference when the confident thief walked up a muddy lane from Briggate, into the yard and coolly into the shop – right past a CCTV camera warning sign.
“I have to say it took some nerve. The yard usually has builders and wagons in it, but nobody was about at the time,” said Mr Patchett, 44.
The Groundforce premises are all covered by cameras which clearly captured the thief in action as he marched in and rifled the till without even a nervous glance.
Manager Mr Ball arrived down in the shop only seconds after an entry alarm alerted him and Mr Patchett to a potential customer.
But instead, all he saw was a tall, thin Asian man with styled hair appearing to look at some electrical products and then checking his tablet phone before leaving.
“He was about 6ft 2ins, young, stick-thin and wearing a really distinctive black and white check jacket with a matching scarf and designer jeans,” Mr Ball said.
“He certainly didn’t look like your usual shoplifter in his clothes or the way he behaved – he even thanked me and said goodbye in a soft voice as he left,” said Mr Ball, 30.
The theft was discovered when staff cashed up at the end of the day.
“I’m furious that we didn’t catch him and I’m disgusted because the building industry is suffering so much that we can’t be doing with any losses whatsoever,” said owner Mr Patchett.
“That money is almost two lads’ weekly wages after tax and I can’t afford to lose it with the business rates I pay and the way things are.
“We’ve been here five years and in the last two so much trade has just vanished because no-one is building anything,” said Mr Patchett, who has recently stopped opening on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
“Our security is very good here. We have dogs and guards on duty and also anyone trying to break in could have a nasty accident with all the materials and wagons in the yard.
“So it is infuriating that someone managed to just swan in and steal especially as I was upstairs with this bad foot. It’s not been the best of years,” said Mr Patchett.