In early May we had a hat stolen from the shop. It was quite large and covered in rose gold sequins from our signature collection, priced at £315. It wasn’t one that could had hidden behind something else very easily or lost within our shop.
We worked out a time frame that it must have disappeared after searching high and low after which we decided to report it to the police. Unfortunately our CCTV hadn’t picked up anything clear enough. We reported it to the police just for the thought that it is a one off and a very stand out piece so if it was worn at Ascot it may well be seen and spotted on TV, so if we had a crime number it would help us further down the line. Essentially the police just recorded it as an open and shut case with a crime number as there was nothing else they could peruse at the time.
Roll on the Saturday evening the week before Royal Ascot, I was looking on eBay as I occasionally do to see what is circulating and there it was, the stolen hat!
Photographed as a selfie only being worn by who we can presume was the criminal who stole it from us! She looked familiar and recall her visiting the shop before. The pieces was tagged with Beverley Edmonson Millinery with a price of £234 stating it was brand new with tags and that it’s original price was £989 (I wish… I’ve never received that much money for any hat. Should I be flattered that this criminal thinks my hats are worth that much or more pissed off that she thinks it’s okay to steal something of that value form a small independent shop?) I actually can’t believe the brazeness of it to post a stolen item with a selfie attached on Ebay and use the name of the person you stole it from in the listing.
I contacted the police being thankful that we chose to report it and receive a crime number and left it in their hands. I’ll be honest the police did say don’t hold your breath eBay are slow at acting on these things and the by time they got anywhere with Ebay it may have been sold.
The Thursday of Royal Ascot week, my partner and I attended Royal Ascot. We arrived earlier than our friends and we went for a wonder around the racecourse and returned to the main entrance as that’s where you get to see all the fashion and the hats. So we went back to the entrance and found a little bench in the crowds where we could people watch.
About 10 minutes later that stolen hat walks past me! On the person who took their selfie and posted it for sale on eBay!
In shock that she could be so brazen I asked Rob to follow her whilst I got security. It took a while to get security to find the right people but when I did luckily they believed me. I had the original photograph of the hat, the eBay listing and the crime reference number on my phone- and was wearing a name badge that clearly is the same as my brand, and the hat was clearly an unusual statement piece.
They had the problem that police couldn’t do anything on the Royal Ascot property and Ascot security had to get clearance from the bosses as to how they could approach this woman and deal with the situation. As they said it was an unusual situation to deal with, after Rob following this woman for about 20 minutes and apparently she was taking hundreds of selfies and being really brazen and not at all coy by the fact she was wearing stolen property. Eventually myself and 4 security caught up with them and security went over to her and a few minutes later returned with my hat that still had the price label still attached! We remove all price labels when they sell as they are non returnable. She didn’t at this point give a story but the label being attached was enough for security to guide the women to reception where she could be interviewed by police.
Apparently this ladies story was that she bought it first of Philip the Hatter in Luton of which I questioned as the only Philip the hatter in Luton is Philip Walter Wright then following this it changed to Philip the hatter in London.
The police deduced that her story didn’t add up but that they couldn’t prove that she had stolen it from my shop as there was not direct proof at that time. They were happy to give me my hat back and would pass the case back to Surrey police where I first reported it. They would be in touch should anything further arise. The lady was removed from the racecourse.
Whilst this was happening, inside I was like maybe she did buy it and I just forgot or missed the sale? Oh my god I’ve completely ruined someone’s day on a mistake!! This is how to loose a customer in a moment and get bad publicity. I guess being conscientious although I knew it had been stolen at this point all my doubts came in one full throw! Luckily her story didn’t make sense to the police and was not able to provide proof of purchase.
We continued with our day and I let the shop know the hat had been retrieved. Later in the day I got a message from the shop that Surrey police had phoned and the women was in custody and other items were being seized.
The next day I was scrolling through Instagram and there is a photograph that a racing magazine took the day before and posted and guess who is in the photo? The lady wearing my stolen hat again posing for the cameras!
I got in touch with the magazine and they were able to provide me with more images, along with the following words: ‘It was a very peculiar few minutes with this lady as I was actually photographing someone else who I though she was with, I then photographed the two Ladies with her and she jumped in! There were several photographers around that small area and she was jumping around getting her picture taken, it was like a bunfight for the camera so much so that my colleague and I walked away
and said to each other how awful the lady was.’ all very peculiar!
The irony of it all is that not once did I go out of my way to find this hat but thrice it appears in front of me, the chances of that are so slim, if she hadn’t have used my name on the eBay listing or hadn’t happened to walk past us at that moment, or posed for photographs she would have got away with it.
Update November 2018
So we didn’t hear much from Surrey Police for months until October when they got in contact and took a written statement from us and said they had finally managed to get the statements from Thames Valley Police from the day in question. In time they then invited the lady caught with the hat to a voluntary interview, which she attended and admitted the theft of the hat. She is now in an 8 week rehabilitation programme with conditions she has to adhere to which myself and the police came up with together.