Suspected serial thief steals designer frames from opticians in Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland

A suspected serial thief has made off with thousands of pounds worth of designer glasses frames from a number of opticians in Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland.
The suspected thief in an opticians.The suspected thief in an opticians.
The suspected thief in an opticians.

One affected optician owner in Marchmont said the “smartly dressed” suspect came into his practice and made off with a dozen frames - two Mulberry, eight Tom Ford, one Prada and one Oakley - worth a combined total of more than £2,000.

Police say enquiries are ongoing into a string of thefts which have been reported by at least two opticians in the Capital, one in Newton Mearns in East Renfrewshire and one in Armadale, West Lothian.

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BBC Scotland, which first reported the story, said they had spoken to eight affected opticians who have shared CCTV footage of the incidents and believe the same thief targeted their shops. The Edinburgh Evening News has also viewed this footage.

Steven Hislop, who owns The Opticians in Marchmont, described the suspect as being aged in his late 40s or early 50s with a strong Glasgow accent.

Mr Hislop said the apparently “very pleasant gentleman” came into his practice wearing a smart blazer, white t-shirt and flat cap and carrying a walking stick on Friday, August 6 and initially asked for a pair of glasses to be repaired.

Mr Hislop said: “I did a repair on the frames at the back of the shop and he must have taken a few frames then, and he was trying frames on. It appears he was turning away and pulling his shirt out and slipping them under his shirt. There was another customer in the shop at the time so I was speaking to her and he probably used that as a decoy.

“I also think he pretended to be on the phone to his wife. He said there were a couple of frames she would like and said he would go and help his wife park the car first. Within 30 seconds to a minute of him leaving I realised what had happened. I went out but he had gone in a puff of smoke.

“He could be selling them online or in a local pub or something.”

Mr Hislop said he has phoned police three times to report the incident and ask when officers will be coming to get photos and videos but says he has not heard from them.

He said he has spoken to a number of other opticians affected through a forum and believes there are around 20 opticians who have been targeted by the same man over the past two years.

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He added: “I am disappointed with the police response as we have all the photos and videos - and it’s clear as day it is the same guy. Even if it is not, I am pretty sure police have the ability to work out who this guy is.

“I want to make other practice owners aware because it’s scunnered me. You work hard and you basically get someone who is a scumbag coming in and stealing from you.”

The suspected thief also targeted 20/20 Opticians, run by the Duncan and Todd Group, in Easter Road on August 13 and made off with a number of designer frames.

A spokesperson said: “The Duncan and Todd Group is incredibly disappointed to hear of a series of thefts that have been committed at both one of their own stores, as well as a number of other opticians across Scotland.

“While theft is always a serious crime, it’s even harder to bear following the imposed closure of stores throughout the pandemic. It’s heartbreaking to hear of practices and branches suffering from this, so soon after celebrating their re-openings.

“The Duncan and Todd Group is working with the appropriate bodies to ensure everything is done to prevent this happening again.”

Another optician in Newton Mearns told the BBC their shop had seven frames worth about £2,000 taken on August 18. It is understood the thief had taken cheaper frames from a stand in the shop and put them in some of the gaps where he had taken the more expensive frames.

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