'˜The thief was stood right behind me in the pawn shop'
When your bag is stolen, what's your first thought?
Most people would automatically call the police, but what happens when they log the crime but you’re still angry about your loss?
What do you do next? Call your insurance? Cry?
Well, all these thoughts crossed my mind when my bag was stolen from my car boot in January.
My car had been parked outside my house in Byerley Road, Fratton, and the bag was stowed safely, locked in the boot. Or so I thought.
When I went to get in the car a few hours later, I clicked the button on my car fob and nothing happened.
‘Unusual,’ I thought. But when I looked in the car and saw the contents of my glovebox strewn everywhere, CDs, sunglasses, tissues and sweets thrown about, my heart sank.
‘I could’ve sworn that I locked it, in fact I was certain I locked it,’ I thought.
I quickly opened the boot, with a gut-wrenching dread building, to see that my gym kit had been rifled through and my black satchel was missing.
Whatever had happened, someone had been in my car and stolen my things.
My work bag was absent and it contained my laptop, mobile, dictaphone, notepads, cables and a tonne of other things that I can’t get through the day without.
Panic raced through my mind – ‘what am I going to do?’ I thought.
The loss of the notepads and dictaphone was the most upsetting, as these contained irreplaceable bits of info.
And they were written in my well-honed and personalised shorthand, which renders the notes useless to almost everyone else.
The laptop and phone, while valuable, were easily replaceable and the high security settings I’d set up on them, would mean they’d have to be wiped clean to be usable.
After logging the crime with 101, and after a few moments of sheer upset, I put myself in the thief’s shoes.
I took a moment to think about where I would go if I was desperate to get my hands on a bit of cash and headed straight there.
It’s no secret that pawn shops like Cash Convertors, CEX and Cash Generators, are good places to get your hands on some instant cash.
However, I’d written about H&T pawnbrokers a couple of years ago and spent a few hours talking to the staff and learning about what they do, so I knew that their processes are very thorough – but that you have to act fast.
I wiped my smudged mascara away and whizzed round to Cash Generator, in London Road, North End.
Armed with the make and model of my unusual haul – plus some of the serial numbers – I waited in the queue and approached the counter.
A friendly face greeted me.
Matt Scott, who has worked at the store for a year, asked how he could help, so I pulled myself together and told him the story.
He was kind and understanding, and took note of the items, plus he called some colleagues over who said they’d keep an eye out for me.
I left my number, not expecting a call.
I walked down the road and was going through the same process with the manager at Cash Convertors, a few shops along, when my phone rang. It was Matt.
‘Hello, Miss Barber? You are never going to believe this,’ he said. ‘But I really need to know the exact serial number of your phone.’
I read it out and he said to call the police back. He had found the thief, in literally 10 minutes, He was right, it was unbelievable.
The 101 operator took all the details and organised for a police officer to call at the shop in the next couple of days to get the evidence.
I raced back to see Matt.
He said that as I had stood in the queue, thief Kyle Goulding was stood behind me. And he even had the cheek to have my phone in his hand the whole time!
After I’d left the shop, almost brushing shoulders with the man who had caused so much upset, Goulding had gone to the counter to ask for a price for my goods.
He didn’t have the laptop with him, just pictures of it, but he did have the phone, which Matt checked and made a note of its serial number.
As Goulding was known to the shop, they already had his address and personal details, logged on to their computer.
Matt made sure he was captured on CCTV, before calling the police.
They couldn’t hold Goulding in the store, but were confident they knew who he was and had enough evidence. Goulding then left and went on to sell my goods in other similar stores across Portsmouth.
The next day police called at the store and took all the evidence, before going to pay Goulding a visit at home.
He wasn’t in, but as he was known to police, they knew where his girlfriend lived so they went to her house and arrested him there.
Once he was at the police station, they got a warrant and searched his house, retrieving my bag and all my precious notes – just minus the phone and laptop.
Knowing he was caught red-handed, 28-year-old Goulding admitted handling stolen goods – but not the theft – and told police where he had sold the items.
There was no evidence linking him to the car.
The police went and seized them from the two shops and two days later, I went and collected them from Fratton police station.
Goulding, of Winchester Street, Basingstoke, appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court for several offences in July, however he didn’t show up for his sentencing and a warrant for his arrest was issued.
He was later arrested and sentenced to 90 days in jail for handling my stolen bag a few days later.
Finally getting the justice he deserves.
City police sergeant urges people not to leave valuables in their cars
NEIGHBOURHOOD policing sergeant Rob Sutton helped to bring Kyle Goulding to justice.
He has offered advice to others who find themselves in similar situations.
He said: ‘We endeavour to help victims of crime and identify any lines of enquiry which may lead to the arrest of the suspect and the recovery of the property stolen.
‘In this case, as a result of police enquiries with a store, a suspect was identified and he was subsequently arrested.
‘This led to the search of his property and the recovery of stolen items.
‘It’s a rewarding part of the job when we can reunite victims with their stolen items and we’re very pleased this was possible in this case. We’d remind people to do what they can to prevent them becoming a victim of this type of crime.’
He offered this advice:
n Don’t leave anything in your car – if it’s not there, it can’t be stolen.
n Choose a stereo that can be removed and take it with you. Mark it with your registration number or postcode.
n Thieves aren’t picky, so don’t leave even low-value items in your car. Often thieves will smash and grab first and look later to see if what they’ve stolen is valuable.
n Don’t hide it – if you hide items under the seat or in the glovebox, chances are someone will have watched you.
n Don’t leave valuables in your car even for a minute – it only takes a thief a few seconds to get what they want, so don’t take the chance.
n Your car isn’t safe to be left unlocked on your driveway - nearly half of all incidents happen overnight close to the owner’s home.
n Don’t leave your house keys or anything with your address on it in your vehicle - someone could steal your keys and then let themselves into your home.
‘keep your serial numbers’
STORE manager Lee Saunders, from Cash Generators, urged people to keep records of their serial numbers.
The store uses a system called CheckMEND to search stolen serial numbers, but this needs to be updated, and that can only happen with accurate records.
He said: ‘We run every single item through CheckMEND which tells if it’s stolen or if there’s any outstanding finance on it.
‘The police are fighting a losing battle. With the way the economy is, more people are turning to crime and the police have a big job on their hands.
‘We work closely with them. It’s important to keep records of your serial numbers, as that gives us evidence.
‘The more information we have, the better.’