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Video: Wreath thief
Published 30/12/13

A THIEF has been caught on camera stealing a Christmas wreath from a house in Harpsden.

Rachael Bartels was “shocked” to find one of the two identical 40 wreaths that were hanging on the gates of her home in Kings Farm Lane was missing when she returned home.

This was the second year running that she has had a wreath stolen.

Ms Bartels said: “I pulled up to discover one wreath was there and one was missing. I drove in and checked the gate and it was clear that the wire attaching it to the gate had been cut.

“Where we live is so remote so to have this happen again is a real shock.”

The theft, which was captured by a CCTV camera overlooking the gates, was reported to the police.

The CCTV can be viewed here.

Anne-Marie Thiel, who also lives at the house, said she was determined to see the thief caught and prosecuted.

“I just want to catch the culprit because it’s not on,” she said. “You don’t expect something like this to happen because it is so bizarre but they knew what they were doing as it was so blatant and obviously premeditated.”

The footage shows the suspect approaching the gates at 5.17pm on December 12 and looking around to check no one is watching before cutting the wire and running off with the blue pine wreath.

It is not clear from the images whether the thief was a man or a woman, although they appeared to be wearing a large pair of trainers.

Ms Bartels, who arrived home just seven minutes after the theft, said she had considered not buying wreaths this year for the first time in about a decade due to last year’s theft. The culprit in that incident was not identified as there was a fault with the CCTV.

Ms Bartels bought three 18in wreaths from Nash & Sons florists in Maidenhead. They are decorated with red baubles, gold coated pine cones and a golden ribbon tied in the shape of a flower.

She put them up on November 30. She said: “We had almost been having a running joke since I put them out, saying ‘they are still there’, although I wasn’t expecting a theft to happen again as I thought last year was a one-off.”

She said the culprit would have needed heavy duty scissors to cut the wire.

Meanwhile, Ms Thiel has been trawling through the CCTV footage from the days before the theft in the hope of identifying anyone suspicious.

She said: “It has got to be a rambler, a horse rider or someone who works in the area. They were well-dressed and clearly not somebody who was dressed for hiking. The theft was really cheeky.”

After the theft, Ms Bartels moved the third wreath, which was hanging by her front door, to replace the missing one on the gate before securing it.

She said: “The thing that gets me is if you are going to steal one wreath to sell it on, why wouldn’t you take both of them? I would just like to see the culprit have their comeuppance. Someone has got to know this person.”

Police described the thief as 5ft 8in and slim with short hair and wearing tight-fitting trousers and a quilted jacket. Anyone with information should call Thames Valley Police on their non-emergency number of 101.

* A laptop and iPad were stolen from a house in Gillotts Lane, Harpsden, between 2pm on December 7 and 10am on December 9. There was no sign of a forced entry but a bathroom window had been left open.

Published 30/12/13

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