A brazen thief is believed to have stolen a £2,500 nude statue from outside a Portsmouth shop in broad daylight.
Staff at furniture and decorations shop Sparkies Emporium in Copnor Road were stunned after CCTV showed a man walking away with the life-sized model on Thursday afternoon.
The statue, which is worth £2,500 and called The Awakening, is a regular sight outside the shop to encourage customers inside.
CCTV showed a bald man, who was wearing a dark tracksuit, walking up to the shop at about 2pm on Thursday.
After looking at a statue of an elephant, he walks over to the figure and – despite people walking past – wheels it away from the shop.
Shop owner Steve Walker, 56, shared the video and pictures of the man on social media, and his appeal for information was seen by thousands of people.
Many people came forward to identify the man pictured, and the statue was found and returned to the store on Saturday.
Steve, who has run the shop with his wife Lisa, 56, for five years, said: ‘We didn’t noticed it was gone at first, we only noticed when we closed the shop. He had just walked off up the road with it.
‘Surely he must have seen the cameras on the front of the shop.’
Steve said it was the third time something had been stolen from the shop in recent years, and the thefts had put a strain on the family-run business.
He said: ‘We are struggling to make ends meet. To lose a piece of that value was something that has been damaging enough.
‘We are all independent stores, we haven’t got big security staff.’
Steve said since the statue disappeared new security devices had been installed in the shop.
He added: ‘The message of support we have received on Facebook has been unbelievable. We had people saying “keep going”, “don’t give up”, “don't let them get you down”.’