THE owners of a funeral parlour are furious after a thief used a distraction tactic to steal an expensive phone.

Kim Jefferies, who runs Jefferies Funeral Directors with her husband in Portslade, was intimidated by the man who waved a large piece of paper to her.

Mrs Jefferies was not sure what he wanted but said “her instincts” told her he was not a potential client.

She said: “I was sitting at my desk and the man came in and he was holding a piece of paper

“This man was really arrogant and rude. He didn’t look like a person who needed funeral advice.

“People who genuinely need our service have a different demeanour. He was wearing a pink beanie and a puffer jacket and he came bouncing in.

“He was holding a piece of paper with foreign writing on it. He waved the paper at and said ‘painting, painting’ and ‘building, building’.

“Then he shoved it on the desk. At that point I got up and prepared myself to run away in case he did something.

“I was confused when he put the paper on the desk. Then I saw him scanning around the desk and he took my phone, which was covered by the piece of paper.

“It was an iPhone X which I had for three months. It cost £1,000.

“I didn’t want to confront him because he could have been armed with a gun or a knife.

“I was having back pains that day too, so it wasn’t a good idea to confront him anyway. It’s outrageous that people are just coming here and targeting small businesses.

“We want this story out there to warn other businesses. The piece of paper is obviously a distraction technique and I heard this man has targeted other shops.”

The theft happened on Monday at about 4.40pm.

The couple have owned the business, in Carlton Terrace, for more than 12 years.

Mr Jefferies said the area has always been safe.

He added: “I heard this man has targeted other businesses.

“Kim was obviously shaken up by the incident. She felt stupid she had fallen for the distraction tactic but I said to her it was better not to confront him because he could have been armed.

“It could have been very dangerous because she was alone at the time. We have reported it to police. Kim is fine now but we are just angry about what happened. We hope police can catch him soon.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “The incident has been linked to the theft of an iPhone X during an incident at a nail bar in Blatchington Road at about 6.30pm on Monday.”