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Police take a year to return jewellers' stock
A jewellery shop owner who says he nearly went bust after police confiscated more than 2,000 suspected burgled items has had them all returned.
The £500,000 worth of items were taken by police from Ebony’s Jewellers in Chichester in April last year.
Officers told owner Simon Tilley they were believed to be valuables taken in a spate of burglaries across the county, including properties in Brighton, Hove, Bognor, Chichester, Horsham and Burgess Hill.
But as of last week all have been returned.
Mr Tilley, who owns the jewellers, had to borrow stock from friends to avoid going bust.
He said: “Trying to run a business with no stock is disastrous. Retail at the moment is difficult as it is. I could have done without all this.”
Mr Tilley added: “They obviously had their reasons for targeting the shop but that has never been explained to me.
“I had to go and collect 90% of the stuff myself. I had to go to Worthing Police Station with a van and the other stuff I got back from Chichester.
“I haven’t had an apology.”
Officers turned up at his shop unannounced on a Saturday morning last April and began rifling through his stock. They stayed until 5pm that evening and returned the following day and didn’t leave until 11pm.
Detective Sergeant Jason Vickers confirmed the enquiry at Ebonys Jewellers has concluded after an extensive investigation, which involved “many lines of enquiry and involvement from other forces”.
He said: “After the warrant in April 2013 a large quantity of items were seized but the majority was returned within 10 weeks to ensure as little disruption as possible to the trader.
“A small quantity of jewellery was kept as part of the investigation but has now been returned. We would like to thank the shop owner for his cooperation in helping us with the enquiry and he was kept fully updated throughout.”
He added: “We have recently launched Operation Reclaim across Chichester district where we have signed up around 40 secondhand jewellers to support us in stopping the sale of stolen goods. We provide them with a list of items of jewellery, which have been stolen and they sign a pledge to say they will support us and make the appropriate checks before selling items.
“This operation is all about working together with these jewellers, helping protect their businesses and them assisting with helping us detect crime.
“Ebony Jewellers is one of those to sign up and we welcome their involvement.”
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