How shopkeepers used WhatsApp to help in alleged shoplifting case in Alnwick

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A WhatsApp group set up by Alnwick traders resulted in the arrest of a suspected shoplifter.

It came on Saturday after a Harris Tweed bag and purse was reported to have been stolen from the window of Narrowgate shop Ruby Tuesday.

Owner Fiona Nelson van-Loon put some CCTV stills and a warning to other traders on the ‘Alnwick Be Aware’ WhatsApp group and it resulted in a man being arrested.

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“It really showed the benefit of the WhatsApp group,” said Fiona. “It was a great example of the community helping out – a big thank you to everyone.

Ruby Tuesday in Alnwick.Ruby Tuesday in Alnwick.
Ruby Tuesday in Alnwick.

“It’s often easy to assume no-one cares but really, when it matters, the vast majority of people are good and kind and want to help.

“The police have been brilliant too. The fact I have CCTV was crucial though.”

Police revealed that a 43-year-old man had been arrested after the incident and has been summonsed to court.

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The WhatsApp group was set up by Andrew Hodgson, managing director of Sportsworld.

Earlier this month, members were able to share information about a suspected shoplifting incident at Penroses on Bondgate Within.

Alnwick Chamber of Trade chairman Lisa Aynsley has described the WhatAapp group as ‘invaluable’.

“It’s a fabulous initiative,” she told a Chamber of Trade meeting. “Quite a lot of the businesses have CCTV now and between us I think we can track quite a lot of Alnwick.

Any businesses wanting to be on it should email [email protected]