Newquay hotel owner Carolyn Armstrong turns detective after losing faith in police
A NEWQUAY hotel owner turned detective to track down thieves who made off with a valuable antique.
Carolyn Armstrong, of the Headland Hotel, took matters into her own hands and identified the thieves from CCTV footage following a tip-off from a guest.
She then telephoned the culprits, who had been staying at the hotel's cottages, and arranged to have the £100 copper bowl returned.
She said she decided to launch her own investigation after being left with no confidence in the police.
Mrs Armstrong told the Cornish Guardian: "I did not report the incident to the police because I doubt if they would have taken any action."
She chose to act independently after police and national organisation Action Fraud failed to act on intelligence provided by the hotel after it reportedly lost £1,200 through credit card fraud last summer.
Staff then had provided a description and registration number of a car, belonging to a suspected fraudster – but Mrs Armstrong says she has received no update on the case.
Under current rules, allegations of fraud are first reported to local police before being referred to Action Fraud, the UK's fraud reporting centre, and then to the National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police for review.
Mrs Armstrong said: "We lost £1,200 last summer and I am very unhappy with Action Fraud's total lack of communication and action.
"I am sure the car registration was genuine and the thief could be easily traced via the DVLA.
"If the police are unwilling to make time to do this, why can't they give me the authority to do this work on their behalf? At least the hotel would have the opportunity of using the county court."
A spokeswoman for Action Fraud told this newspaper the organisation was a public "information and advice service" and had no remit to carry out investigations. She advised contacting the NFIB, who said they could not disclose details of any case.
Mrs Armstrong said: "The whole process has been a long-winded nightmare and there is no way of following up progress."
Dave Meredith, Newquay's police inspector, said he could find no reference of any fraud complaint made by the Headland Hotel last summer.
He said: "I can fully understand Mrs Armstrong's concern but it would appear the case now sits with either Action Fraud or the City of London Police."
Mr Meredith said he was happy Mrs Armstrong had recovered the antique bowl but was "disappointed" that she did not report the theft. "I would like to reassure the public that the police take all crime reports seriously," he said.