Sunday, 27 July 2008


Yesterday afternoon my daughter’s handbag was stolen from her work place. It was hanging in the staff room (they’re not allowed to have their personal belongings at the tills) and somebody came in through the back door, that the manager had left open, and had it away.

In the bag was her purse, driver’s licence, bank card, a pack of cigarettes, a few till receipts and her keys. The purse contained £1.15 in cash.

To renew her driver’s licence it will cost £17.50. The bank have told her that a new card will be issued within 5-7 days. The keys, however, pose a problem.

She has just the one key to her car. When she first bought it she enquired about having a new key made to keep at home ‘just in case’ but it would cost £70, money she really couldn’t afford. Corsas, apparently, have special keys that are only available from a Vauxhall dealer.

Her car is now stood at the back of her work place and her manager is telling her that it has to be moved. She can’t move it and try as I might to get a recovery company out to her, nobody had the time. That, when we do eventually find one who will do it, will cost about another sixty quid.

She enquired with Vauxhall about having the locks changed (the only way of getting a new key) but was told that the cost would be so high that it wouldn’t be worth it on such an old car. It’s not worth more than a few hundred pounds now but without it she’s stuck as she can’t get to work and back. She starts at 7am some days and finishes at 11pm on others. She’d need two buses and they just don’t start early enough from here, or come back late enough, to be of any use to her.

She has no available funds as everything she has is in her savings for moving to Norway in September. She absolutely needs every penny because she has no idea how long it will take before she can get a job there and she’s got to survive in the meantime. She really can’t use that money.

The only answer is for me to dip into my kitchen savings and either a) pay to have the locks changed or b) buy another car. I think the latter is the better alternative. At least if we junk this one and I buy another, I can sell it when she moves and get some of my money back. If I change the locks, the car still won’t be worth more than £200-300 in September, and I’ll have probably paid that much to get it sorted, leaving me with a greater loss. And even though she’s offered to pay me back anything I lose, it’ll have to be in instalments because she’s not liable to have much money while she’s establishing herself in Norway, so my kitchen will need to be postponed even further.

Basically, the gits who stole her bag have caused her a lot of trouble sorting out a driver’s licence, having her card stopped, and worrying about how she’ll get to work, as well as potentially costing her several hundred pounds. All for the sake of £1.15, because that’s really all they got out of it. If only these people realised just what the consequences of their selfish actions were, but maybe they do and don’t care. I don’t know.

What’s more, her manager doesn’t seem to think that the company she works for have any responsibility towards this. I’ve told her to make further enquiries and if she has no joy, I shall contact them and ask why somebody (the manager for leaving the door open?) isn’t being held accountable. And while the forecourt has CCTV cameras pointing every which way, there are none at the back of the building. She may not have lost much directly from her bag, but indirectly she certainly has.

I do believe that things happen for a reason so maybe one day we’ll understand the lesson that had to be learned through this or see that it lead her towards a path she otherwise wouldn’t have taken. And although I’m not generally one for revenge, I hope one day that whoever did this experiences something similar themselves if that’ll help them learn just how selfish theft is.

Why can’t people just keep their dirty dabs off of others’ property?

Sharon J


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Anonymous said...

that stinks... not so much the theft, although that stinks too.. the manager's attitude is what *really* stinks, to my mind.

does she have a union? if not, it might be worth checking with the citizen's advice bureau, or failing that, one of these no-win-no-fees solicitors. I'm pretty sure that if your job means you cannot take personal items with you (i.e. in your desk) then the company must provide a secure location for it - and in leaving the back door open, the manager was in breach of said law, if it exists.

the wider issue of course is that of employee security: if some scrote can gain access to that room through an open/unlocked door, then it means that potentially, the employees there could be subject to attack - and that, I'm pretty sure the company *would* be liable for (unless it was a public door).

either way, i don't think your daughter would lose out just by contacting a no-win-no-fee solicitor, i don't think they charge for just a chat, and she may even gain enough back to compensate for the costs of replacing everything.

hope that helps!


ramtops said...

That stinks. I would imagine that her employers owe her a duty of care, which would include looking after her belongings on their premises, and not leaving the door open for any opportunistic passerby to help themselves. In fact, she should have a secure locker, rather than hang her personal belongings where anyone could get them. I wonder if the manager was less than helpful because he knows he was in the wrong.

Report it to the police and get a crime number, contact the Citizens Adice Bureau on what rights she has. Does she have any sort of home insurance that might help?

Sharon J said...

Thanks to both of you for the CAB advice. I have to go down there next week to make some enquiries for my mum so I'll ask about this while I'm there. I've already told her to keep every receipt of anything she has to spend as a direct result of this.

I also think her manager is pulling a fast one. She's young, still a little naive, and has respect for people in authority. A prime target for the manager to be able to 'get away with it' I think. I shan't just let it drop, though. The whole thing stinks big time.

The door isn't public, Kethry. It's for use by employees only and should never have been left open.

She's already reported it the police, Ramtops (welcome to my blog, BTW). I haven't asked her whether she got a crime number but I would assume so. I'll ask later.

I'm going to phone my home insurance provider tomorrow but I'm not hopeful there. Still, you can't know if you don't ask.

I'm going to phone Vauxhall to get a proper quote for changing the locks too, just so that she can prove how much that will cost her.

I still can't believe we're going through all this for the sake of what's no more than enough to buy a bag of chips with!

Frugal Trenches said...

Oh Sharon that is awful! I do think her company should definitely, even if just a "good will gesture" pay for the new car keys! She should speak to a lawyer for free and the union!
So sorry you are going through this!

Chris said...

Hi, so very sorry to read about all of this Sharon. Disgusting that the place of work did not have secure storage for personal items and I hope they will have now! I know that is a bit too little too late for this time but migt stop it again for another person.

Really hope you can get somebody to help asap.

Jade of the Jungle said...

I've only just discovered your blog and think it's fantastic! What a shame your latest post is on such a sad note - as someone who's been a victim of theft I know how upsetting it can be!

I hope your daughter gets it sorted


Anonymous said...

Definitely agree with ramtops - since I became a born-again complainer after having trouble with Wanadoo, I have found that bandying legalese works wonders and 'duty of care' is a legal perogative in employment law. A letter to the manager and cc to several other important persons also works incredibly well, especially if the company is large, as is the use of any power names. I am lucky enogh to have John Sweeney as a nephew and his name causes corporate knees to shake! Borrow him if you like!

Anonymous said...

that's awful Sharon!
Her Manager is just being unhelpful and a ****

-with regards to personal belongings at work - to my knowledge personal possessions of workers are not usually covered on company insurance, you are told to use your own home insurance. Companies depending on size usually have a large excess before they can even claim... however as a MANAGER he has a responsibilty to his workers and he should, like I have done on several occasions, help them in these types of situations. He could probably get the costs reimbursed through the company if he really wanted to.

Sharon J said...

Thanks for the support, folks. I'll be posting an update on the situation later today. For the moment, let me just say that I'm happier - a LOT happier :)

@ Cherry. Thanks for 'loan'. Could've come in handy :)

@ Move to Portugal. How I'd love to know what lurks beneath those asters ;-)

Richard said...

I really cannot get my head around the fact that the manager left a door open onto shop premises that wasn't covered by cctv. When you think about it, she didn't just compromise LM's belongings, she compromised the security of the whole site and of everyone working in it!

WebSmith said...

The manager is trying to bully your daughter in order to protect his own rear in.

The manager was negligent and made the company negligent by providing a room where employees could store their personal belongings that they were not allowed to have at their work stations and then leaving the door open.

Here, we have small claims court where you can recover damages in situations like this, but it costs money to file, which you also can recover. Usually, I have been able to get things taken care of with an email to the editor of or a sympathetic reporter at the local newspaper titled something like, "Company Responsible for Theft of Low Paid Workers Valuables".

Sharon J said...

You're quite right, Richard. Hopefully they'll react at head office being as she emailed them to report the theft and enquire about their compensation policy. An armed robber could have just wandered in there and taken them completely by surprise!

Websmith. We also have a small claims court and if she hadn't had the car keys returned, I would have urged her to take things further. I'm sure the local press would have made a meal of it.

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