A police and crime commissioner candidate has recalled the moment his home was broken into in the middle of the night.

Paul Richards, who is standing as the Labour candidate in Sussex against the current Conservative Party commissioner Katy Bourne, told The Argus about how a burglar entered his home while he was asleep.

He said: “When we were living in London and my wife and I were upstairs asleep, we were broken into by a burglar.

“He used bolt cutters to get through our chain and break through the door and stole a whole load of stuff.

“Thank heavens we didn’t intervene - we just stayed upstairs and our little boy was with us in that room at the time.

“It was incredibly invasive and was one of the reasons we moved out of London - the experience of feeling invaded in your own home.

“It’s a lasting feeling of unease and not being safe once you have been a victim of a crime in that way.”

While he has said that the police in his case eventually detained, arrested and sentenced the burglar, Mr Richards said that such a situation is “quite rare” and highlighted the recent spate of shoplifting in Sussex and across the country.

He said: “I took some campaigners to the Co-op in Horsham; I had been speaking about shoplifting and criminal gangs and they were sceptical.

“As we got to the Co-op, an incident was taking place. Somebody was trying to steal some steaks. One of the shop workers had just been assaulted ten seconds before we got there.

“If you talk to anyone in retail, they will tell you, this is a daily occurrence now - gangs stealing to order and then flogging high-value goods like steak, booze and baby powder. It’s an absolute epidemic that has gone through the roof in the last two years - and the shoplifters and the gangs know they can get away with it.”

Mr Richards said that, along with sentencing for such offences being too lenient and police not turning up to incidents of shoplifting, more needs to be done to tackle addiction.

“A lot of the people who have been put into the frontline of actually doing the stealing are addicts and have been paid by the gangs to steal - sometimes with a shopping list of what’s needed.

“Unless you tackle some of those addiction issues and join up the system between health, police and education, you’re not going to get the thing fixed.”

Mr Richards, who came second at the last police and crime commissioner election in 2021, will be facing incumbent Katy Bourne, who is seeking a fourth term in the post.

Voters go to the polls for the police and crime commissioner election in Sussex on May 2.