Thieves made to pay

Teen thieves, who stole from two Budleigh Salterton shops, have been ordered by police to beg for forgiveness and make reparations.

In separate incidents, the two youths, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stole from the Co-op in the High Street and the Spar in Fore Street.

In both cases, the offenders were young, with no previous convictions, and were dealt by ‘restorative justice’ - they had to apologise to the shop managers and pay for the goods.

Since the scheme started, thousands of 10 to 17-year-olds in Devon have written letters to victims, painted over graffiti and paid for stolen goods.

PC Simon Evans said: “It allows people to be given a second opportunity, if the circumstances of the incident prove that the person involved has shown genuine remorse for what has happened and wishes to make amends.”

Police say that a more ‘flexible’ approach to low-level crimes, such as graffiti, shoplifting and some public order offences, has led to just three per cent of those dealt with in this manner re-offending.

Spar manager Chris Jones said: “To have to go through all the rigmarole and end up with them getting a fine just wasn’t worth it.

Most Read

“Hopefully, he will think twice about doing it again. He definitely won’t be doing it here again - he’s banned.”

The manager of the Co-op, who did not wish to be named, said: “There are a lot of kids around here who steal things and I feel parents don’t do anything to discourage it.

“We got our money back, but there is no way of telling how many times they have done it in the past and got away with it.”

Deputy mayor Courtney Richards said that restorative justice should be applied on a case-by-case basis. “If the offender is genuinely remorseful and it’s a first offence, I would say it is an appropriate way to deal with it,” he said. “But it is no good having a habitual offender who says sorry and just steals again the following day.”

? Are police being soft on crime or is it the right way to deal with young offenders? Write with your views to: