A businessman has expressed concerns about a lack of police presence in Clitheroe after a burglary in brought daylight at his town centre store.
In an incident last Wednesday afternoon at Ken Varey Town and Country Wear, a shoplifter fought with two shop assistants over stolen jackets.
The incredible CCTV footage of the incident, which took place at the premises in New Market Street, has been shared on social media and has had 189,000 impressions on Twitter alone.
Two offenders - a man and a red-haired woman - escaped with clothing worth hundreds of pounds. Now, a £500 reward is up for grabs for the identification and prosecution of the thieves.
Proprietor, Kevin Horkin MBE, said: "I published the CCTV footage on Facebook and on Twitter to ask the public to identify the perpetrators and it has gone viral on social media.
''The suspected female shoplifter in the incident is a woman with red hair and a tattoo - very distinctive in appearance and I am sure someone will know her, possibly including serving police officers. Our staff should not have been put in danger from potential violence like this and I pay tribute to their diligence and courage.
"I see real importance in supporting the police and the use of CCTV to combat crime .What is needed is a more equal distribution of police resources throughout the county to protect small towns and rural areas and not merely focus the lions share on the bigger towns."
Kevin added: "I am absolutely disgusted that an audacious attack on a Clitheroe business can take place in broad daylight. I have traded in Clitheroe for 30 years and have never witnessed anyone as bold and brazen as the duo who came in deliberately to steal. It’s clear that the police presence within the Ribble Valley is not fit for purpose and only a matter of time before more serious incidents take place."
Meanwhile, on behalf of Clitheroe Conservatives, Ken Hind, said: "We need to protect our shopkeepers and counter the 'retreat from rural policing policy' operated by the present Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw and press for reopening Ribble Valley police stations in Longridge and Clitheroe to the public. Police calls for help in situations faced by traders or householders whose homes are broken into, result in a police response sent from Blackburn or Colne. By the time the police arrive on the scene, the thieves have long fled."
Responding, a spokesman for Lancashire Police, said: “We were called at 15:21 on Wednesday (June 5th) to a report of shoplifting at Ken Vareys shop on New Market Street in Clitheroe.
“Officers were dealing with a number of serious incidents at the time of the report so were unable to attend straight away. Contact was later made with the shop and officers are making enquiries including reviewing CCTV. “
"Anyone with information should call 101 quoting crime reference number 04/105736/19. Clitheroe Police station remains open and is an operational police station 24/7. It is just the front counter which is closed."