Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Woman's phone stolen visiting charity shop

A WOMAN had her mobile phone stolen while browsing in a Henley charity shop.

A WOMAN had her mobile phone stolen while browsing in a Henley charity shop.

Katharina Fritz, 29, was looking through the clothes rails at Oxfam when the thief — believed to be a woman — took the iPhone 5 from her open handbag without her noticing.

Now she has warned other shoppers to beware of thieves.

Miss Fritz, of Radnor Close, Henley, said: “The fact that I was robbed in a charity shop is appalling and I would like to make people aware that we need to close our bags and be a bit more on the lookout.”

The incident happened at about 1.50pm on Thursday last week shortly after Miss Fritz had entered the shop in Market Place.

She said: “I had leaned across the clothes to pick something up when a woman banged into me.

“She had some hangers and some clothes over her arms and I looked at her and she said, ‘sorry’. There was nothing unusual about it, especially in that shop because it is so small. People bang into you all the time so it was the furthest thing from my mind that something had been stolen. I did not think anything of it.”

It was as she was leaving the shop about three minutes later and went to call her partner that she realised her phone was missing.

Miss Fritz, who is reading German and management at Reading University, said: “I thought maybe that I had just dropped it. The fact that someone had stolen it did not come into my mind.

“The two ladies in the shop were really helpful. They gave me their phone and I called mine but it was switched off. I knew that was not a good sign but I still was not sure that it had been stolen.

“I retraced my steps and looked through everything but I could not find it.”

Miss Fritz reported the theft to the police and gave them a description of the woman in the shop.

She said: “She must have bumped into me then left the shop immediately. Because she was very small she did not look suspicious in any way.

“I was lucky that she did not take my wallet. My phone must have been the first thing that she reached.

“I feel really angry for not closing my bag and also that someone could steal from it. It is not a nice feeling.

“When I am in London I close my bag and am very aware but it is so rural here. I was too naive.

“The fact that it happened in a charity shop is the worst part about it. If my story makes people aware then that is a good thing.

“Someone once told me that people come from London because it is so easy to steal here and now I have experienced it I wonder if that’s true. There is an alleyway next to the shop so I do not know if there were a few of them. I was thinking that I am probably not the only one as it all seemed quite professional and I wouldn’t have thought it would have been enough to get one mobile.”

Miss Fritz said she had only bought the phone two months before and, although it was insured, it cost her £100 to buy a replacement.

“It is just really annoying,” she said. “You do not expect it in a charity shop of all places, especially not in Henley.

“I had an ‘iPhone finder’ app so as soon as the phone goes online they can trace it. I hope that happens.”

Insp Mark Harling, head of Henley police, said: “My presumption is that if this person had not stolen from a person they would have stolen from the Oxfam shop itself, which would be equally reprehensible.”

Mai Lee Burgess, manager of Oxfam, said: “There is no way of proving that it happened in the shop.

“We get things stolen from the shop all the time but we have never had something stolen from a customer.

“It is absolutely no different here to anywhere else unfortunately.”

The suspect is described as a small Asian woman, aged 30 to 40, slim with shoulder-length, dark straight hair.

Anyone with information should call police on the non-emergency number, 101.

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