Chippenham worker on her feet to stop charity thief

James Scarth and Tracey Hannam outside the RSPCA shop

James Scarth and Tracey Hannam outside the RSPCA shop

First published in News

Charity worker Tracey Hannam did not let a broken pelvis stop her from hobbling down the street after a shoplifter.

She was so outraged that someone would steal from the RSPCA charity shop in Chippenham where she works that, despite discarding her crutches only a week before, she hurried after the crook to get a description and try to keep him in sight.

Police caught him and retrieved the shop’s camera, thanks to Miss Hannam’s help and town centre CCTV footage.

Assistant manager Miss Hannam, 46, said: “I followed him as he made off towards Wilkinsons with his hood pulled up and a couple lent me their mobile to call 999.

“I hadn’t realised it at the time, because I was so intent on getting him caught, but that evening it was painful.”

She said she had not been scared and had been held up at gunpoint when working in a dry cleaners in Louisiana where she lived years ago.

The incident happened at lunchtime on Friday. It was Miss Hannam’s first full week back at work since breaking her pelvis when she collapsed in the street near her home in Redlands 12 weeks ago. She spent two weeks in Swindon’s Great Western Hospital.

She said she had been suffering from blackouts since last July, when she was signed off her job of six years as activities co-ordinator for a dementia care home in Chippenham. She was alerted to the crime by RSPCA volunteer James Scarth, who said he saw the camera in the man’s bag before he left the shop.

Mr Scarth, 24, of Pewsham, said: “They don’t care that it’s a charity, it is demoralising.”

Helen Osborne, manager of the RSPCA shop on The Bridge, said: “I’m very proud that the quick thinking of one of our volunteers and my assistant manager culminated in the police being able to apprehend and arrest the perpetrator.”

PC John Brixey, town centre community beat manager, said: “This is a great example of cooperation between business, members of the public and police to ensure that he was detained.

“It is a deplorable act to steal from a charity shop.”

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