POLICE are refusing to investigate a theft captured on CCTV – because the crime is not serious enough.

The thief is caught on camera tucking a box of film prints under her scarf from the counter of a Brighton store.

The value of the prints was £10.95.

Zoingimage owner Serge Rolland reported it to Sussex Police and sent them a still image of the woman in question.

He even had her bank details because of an earlier purchase the shoplifter had made.

“They have everything they need to make and arrest,” said Mr Rolland, who has run the Sydney Street shop for almost ten years.

“That’s why I am at a loss. They could do it if they want to.”

In an email to Mr Rolland seen by The Argus, a constable told him: “For every crime that is reported to Sussex Police we apply an investigation framework to the circumstances which accesses a number of factors and dictates if a criminal investigation is proportionate in those circumstances.

“The threat, harm and risk levels are considered to be low and therefore it would not be deemed proportionate to conduct bank enquiries for such a low valued offence with no aggravating factors.”

The woman entered the photography shop just before 1pm and Mr Rolland said she was acting nicely like his average customer.

But after paying for the printer usage using a contactless phone app, the thief had a change of heart and pounced on the more expensive item.

“I helped her and she was funny,” said Mr Rolland.

“But as she came to the counter to pay, she took the item.

“She is very good at what she does.

“I think this woman is someone that just does it everywhere.

“Maybe the next thing she steals will be worth a lot more than £10.95.

“That’s why I feel very disappointed. I have the evidence but the police choose not to do anything.”

Mr Rolland, 43, said he is not bothered about the value of the item, only concerned about the message this sends out.

“I feel really let down,” he said.

“I can fully understand how the police are suffering from cuts and I know £10.95 is not very much money.

“It’s not about my money. There is an opportunity to caution someone so that she may not do it again and prevent another crime.”

The thief waited until Mr Rolland’s back was turned before she made her move and stole the prints.

Mr Rolland later realised the item was missing, so decided to flick over the CCTV cameras to find out what happened.

He said he felt upset when he watched the footage.

“It’s not a nice thing to happen to you,” said Mr Rolland.

“We’re a family business, so it feels very personal. We feel hurt.”

Mr Rolland thought the next best thing to do was to contact The Argus in a last-ditch effort to trace the criminal as the police would not pursue his evidence.

Sussex Police echoed the views of the original emails sent to Mr Rolland when we contacted them for a comment.

A force spokesman said: “We are aware of this report and have been liaising with the victim.

“For every crime reported to us, we assess a number of factors which dictates whether or not a criminal investigation is proportionate to the circumstances.

“In this particular case, the threat, harm and risk levels do not meet the criteria required for a criminal investigation.

“It remains unacceptable for any crime to be committed in Sussex. However with so many reports received each year it is unrealistic to think we can investigate everything.

“By better defining our priorities and focusing our resources accordingly, we aim to conduct better investigations of crimes against the vulnerable, crimes involving serial offenders and crimes that cause the greatest harm.

“We have circulated the image of the suspect provided, and if identified, we will look to review this report.”

Anyone with information about the thief should call Sussex Police on 101 quoting serial 617 of December 9.