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‘Stunned’ firms in public appeal over break-ins

Laurence Odie Knitwear Ltd.'s premises in Hoswick were broken into and money stolen at the weekend. It is the fifth victim of a break-in in the past three months. Photo: Shetnews

BUSINESSMEN in Yell and Hoswick who have been left shocked after thieves broke into their premises are urging members of the public to come forward with information to help police catch the perpetrators.

Laurence Odie said he was “stunned and surprised” after his knitwear business in Hoswick was robbed at some point between 5pm on Friday and 11am on Sunday.

Not only was company money taken, but charity collection boxes were also taken by the culprits – while police said a “considerable amount of damage” had been caused to the Hoswick Woollen Mill premises.

“I just hope that if anybody has any information they will come forward with it to help them with their inquiries,” Odie said.

“The charity boxes going is very upsetting, because we can’t quantify what was in them and it’s someone else’s money that was on our premises at that time.”

Interim police chief inspector Eddie Graham said a “significant amount of coinage” was stolen from Odie’s knitwear premises.

“It might well be that persons are looking to offload this – if anybody notices people with a significant amount of money that is out of character with their lifestyle, or [they are] looking to offload a significant amount of change, we’d appreciate a call.”

The Hoswick theft is the latest in a spate of break-ins in the past three months. Police say the nature of the firms targeted “tends to indicate” a connection dating back to the break-ins at garage businesses in Hamnavoe and Ollaberry over Christmas.

Between Wednesday night and Thursday morning last week, Victor Jamieson’s plant hire business in Mid Yell was broken into and “quite a bit of money” was stolen.

Police have advised the affected businesses not to reveal the exact sums involved.

Jamieson arrived back in Shetland on Monday following a trip to the mainland. He says the incident has left him reeling.

He and his wife are the only people usually working in the offices, which are in a secluded part of Mid Yell. She left the building at 9pm on Wednesday night and the couple returned at 6am on Thursday to discover the door had been levered open.

“I was absolutely shocked,” Jamieson told Shetland News. “It was just unbelievable that somebody would break in the office door. It’s quite quiet and it’s not anything that you think is ever going to happen in Yell.

“I’ve been operating for over 30 years now, and it’s the first time I’ve been broken into. People are very sympathetic with us, because we’re just a small business.

“Surely the police will catch them, because I can’t think this can go on forever.”

Thieves also broke into the Hamnavoe Church in Burravoe during the same timeframe, stealing a collection box.

Police are under growing pressure to catch the robbers, but Graham stressed that such incidents were “usually complex inquiries and can take a considerable period of time”.

“Ultimately we are renewing our appeal to the public, because somebody, somewhere within the wider public, is likely to know who is responsible,” he said.

“From our perspective it’s a particularly despicable series of crimes when these small businesses are being targeted, and in addition a charity box within church premises.”

Graham called on business owners “to be checking their premises more regularly, cashing up, making sure they’re not keeping [too much] cash in premises overnight, and reviewing their security”.

“Yell is normally a fairly law-abiding place, but we have two dishonesties within the same timeframe,” he added.

“It would be safe to assume there’s a potential link, and given the nature of the other garage premises, that would tend to indicate there are linkages with [Hamnavoe] and Ollaberry, possibly Hoswick too.”

• Anyone with information can contact Police Scotland by dialling 101.