Police are on the hunt for a thief using distraction techniques who is believed to have struck a number of North East businesses in the space of two days.
In last week’s Piper and Herald , Nicky Hepburn of Rowan Jewellery in Ballater spoke to us about an attempted robbery at her premises.
The following day, Mama Mia Cafe in Banchory was targeted and Police Scotland believe the crimes to have been attempted by the same individual.
The man is described as being having an Asian appearance and being aged between 25 and 30, around 5ft 4ins tall with short dark hair.
He has also been linked to robberies in Ellon, Fraserburgh and Banff all between Thursday, 13 August and Friday, 14 August.
Lesia Robertson who owns the cafe with her current fiancé, had her Rolex watch, engagement ring and mobile phone stolen on the Friday.
She said: “He came in near the kitchen and he pretended he couldn’t speak.
“I had put my engagement ring, my watch and my phone on the counter because I had to make a pizza because my chef was off.
“He kept shuffling around near the kitchen and gesturing so I thought he needed to know something about the building. He kept acting like he wanted to come into the back near the oven.
“He asked me to come outside with him to show him something.
“I walked him up past the ice cream and showed him where Aberdein Considine was, because I thought maybe that was what he was looking for.
“About 20 minutes after I finished making the pizza I needed to make a call.
“I realised that my engagement ring, my Rolex watch, and my phone had all gone.
“The thing that I’m really upset about is the watch, it was a Rolex that my late husband had given to me. I keep everything of his - I still celebrate his birthday, and that was the first time I’d ever worn that watch to work.”
The attempted theft at Rowan Jewellery has so far been the only involving the businesses stock, all others have been personal objects, most commonly mobile phones. It has also been the only unsuccessful attempt.
PC Kev Marron who is the Crime Reduction Officer for Police Scotland in Aberdeenshire said: “Aberdeenshire is a very low crime area and this can often lead to the people in our communities being very trusting and, on occasions, not as security conscious as perhaps they could be. Distraction thefts by their very nature can be confusing and often it is not until the theft has occurred it becomes clear that the individual has been the target of criminal activity. The low crime rate we enjoy in the North East can often lead to our friends in the business community having a relaxed environment which is not always conducive to the security of retail and other commercial outlets.
“It is important that staff ensure that they exhibit a level of security on their premises to discourage criminal behaviour and that they remain alert. Consideration should also be given to the security of stock and both staff and customers personal belongings. I also would encourage retailers to be alert to any “customer” who behaves in an unusual or peculiar manner or if the nature of the transaction is suspicious. We would encourage staff to get the image of the culprit caught on any CCTV system, any vehicular registration number and direction of travel but only if it is safe to do so. Telephone the Police as soon as possible”.
If any person has any information regarding these incidents or as to the identity of the suspect they should telephone Police Scotland on the non-emergency number 101 or if they wish to remain anonymous they can telephone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.