TRADERS have been warned to beware of a conman who goes around demanding refunds for goods he hasn’t bought.
Albert Road Traders’ Association chairwoman Jenni Catlow said shop owners were getting increasingly frustrated by the con.
She said: ‘He can’t be allowed to keep getting away with it. We want to hunt him out.’
Ms Catlow said she had heard reports of the man trying his con in chemists, wool shops, hairdressers, cafes, bars, an e-cigarette shop, florists and convenience stores. She said: ‘He just goes in, picks something up from the shelf and dumps it on the counter.
‘Then he says: “when my wife or my mother opened it at home she cut her hand on a razor blade she found inside”.
‘He never produces a receipt. He just intimidates the people into giving them money back for things he’s never bought in the first place.
‘Some people don’t pay but some do.
‘He’s upsetting people, particularly women who are working alone in the shops.’
Ms Catlow said she thought the man had been operating since January and had tried his con in Albert Road, Clarendon Road, Palmerston Road, Marmion Road and the Southsea Skatepark.
‘He even goes into sandwich shops and blags his lunch, it’s ridiculous,’ she said.
Police are looking for a man 45 to 55, who is 5ft 9ins to 5ft 11ins and of average build in connection with the crimes.
He has grey hair and wears a blue jacket and rusty or brown trousers.
There have also been reports of the man operating in Chichester and other parts of Dorset, Hampshire and Sussex.
Response investigator Kym Belding, of Sussex Police, said: ‘The offender is clearly very bold as he is quite brazen about the way he opens packaging in the shop and demands cash from the staff.
‘I would like to speak to any store staff who have experienced this.
‘If you know who the man in the CCTV is or where he could be please contact us so we can speak to him urgently.’
Anyone with information should call 101.
or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.