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Robbed supermarket offers big rewards

PUBLISHED: 09:01 12 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:55 13 July 2010

An angry businessman whose supermarket had cigarettes stolen by a gang of thieves is offering a £7,500 reward to help catch them.

And, in an unusual move, he is offering another £2,500 if the courts hand out stiff sentences to the culprits as a deterrent.

AN angry businessman whose supermarket had cigarettes stolen by a gang of thieves is offering a £7,500 reward to help catch them.

And, in an unusual move, he is offering another £2,500 if the courts hand out stiff sentences to the culprits as a deterrent.

Michael Baker is the boss of a well-known family department store at Holt, but also now owns the local Budgens supermarket which was hit by the raid.

A gang of three or four people broke into the store off Kerridge Way at about 11.30pm on Wednesday night. They smashed their way through another three doors, and brought a haul of an estimated 2,000 packets of cigarettes down the stairs to a waiting getaway vehicle.

Mr Baker said: "I am not going to be attacked by people. I won't put up with people taking my goods."

He said break-ins at other parts of his empire - Bakers and Larners department store and C T Baker builders merchants - were infrequent, but he felt that was helped by previous rewards which put off potential criminals who feared they would be turned in because of the money on offer.

The more traditional £7,500 part of the reward was for information leading to the conviction of the offenders.

But Mr Baker also felt there was an onus on the courts to give out sentences which were also a deterrent - which led to his £2,500 bonus, linked to the outcome.

He said the break-in had caused a lot of inconvenience for the business, from repairs to the doors, to losing half the store's trading in the frozen, housewares, and wine and spirits sections, while scenes of crime officers looked for clues.

The store suffered a similar raid a year ago, including a second hit just two days later after it was re-stocked.

Mr Baker, who is known for his outspoken comments as a local councillor, said: "Obviously we cannot say that anything Draconian will be done in the store this time - because mantraps are illegal."

A spokesman for the Judicial Communications Office, which is the press office for judges, said he had never heard of such a reward linked to sentencing before.

But he stressed "all sentencing is based on the circumstances of the case and evidence, and no judge or magistrate would be influence by a reward."

Anyone who saw anything suspicious, including a vehicle driving away from the area or has any information about the crime should contact North Walsham CID on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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