Appeal after thefts at Otterton Mill and other businesses
PUBLISHED: 13:28 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:50 25 August 2017
The owner of Otterton Mill has criticised 'cowardly' thieves said to have made off with several hundred pounds from the attraction after intimidating a teenage member of staff.
Chris Wright said the incident had been an ‘unpleasant shock’, but that staff had been heartened by the reaction of regular customers.
Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating the alleged incident, and also similar incidents said to have occurred at Bicton Park, and McDonald’s in Salterton Road, Exmouth.
A police spokesperson said officers were ‘keeping an open mind’ about whether the incidents were linked.
Mr Wright said the incident at his business, on Wednesday August 16, at 1.45pm, occurred when two ‘heavy-set’ men, who looked to be in their 30s, entered the premises.
He said one man distracted other staff members, while the other intimidated a 17-year-old female employee at the till into handing over money.
Mr Wright said the offence seemed to begin as a ‘ringing the changes’ scam, where offenders attempt to confuse shop staff by asking them to change money, but that the man then threatened the staff member into handing over more money.
Mr Wright said: “Clearly they knew exactly what they were doing, terrifying a young female member of staff into handing money over because she feared for her own safety.
“To terrify that young individual, that’s the cowardly thing about these two individuals.
“It was in the middle of service. There were lots of other staff and customers there.
“The reaction of our other customers and regulars has been very heartening. The amount of other people that have wished us well, and told us how much they enjoyed the mill, that’s really nice to know because you do start to think ‘God, what’s going on in the world’.
“For us and our staff it has been a real shock, an unpleasant shock.”
The incident at McDonald’s is said to have taken place on August 16, at around 1pm.
The incident at Bicton Park is said to have taken place on August 17 at around 1.25pm.
Anyone with any information about any of the incidents can call police on 101, or email email@example.com, quoting crime reference number CR/069566/17.