TRADERS have slammed sign thieves who left them more than a £1,000 out of pocket.
The seven letters were taken from the front of Just Sew, in Newbottle Street, Houghton, which sells curtain poles, tracks and accessories.
It is thought that the crooks took the signs thinking they were made of expensive metal, but they are actually stainless steel on the front with plastic on the back.
Officers from Northumbria Police are now reviewing CCTV footage from the area and checking with scrap dealers to see if they have been approached by anyone with the letters.
Andrew Oliver, who has run the business for the past 15 years with wife Lynn, 44, said he now faces a bill of £1,200 to get replacement letters put in place.
Mr Oliver said: “People in society these days don’t seem to care about people’s belongings.
“It’s getting beyond a joke.
“They’ve smashed the backboard as well behind the letters, so we are going to have to get a new one of those now.
“It’s going to cost us a lot of money to get it done.”
Other businesses in Newbottle Street have been targeted in recent months,
In August, two florists AppleBlossom, in Mautland Street, just off Newbottle Street, and Flowers by Brenda, which stands across from the shop, were broken into,.
Thieves snatched collection tins for Marie Curie Cancer Care, Heroes That Matter and animal charity PDSA from AppleBlossom while also smashing the cash till. Money was also taken from Flowers by Brenda.
Mr Oliver, 42, feels that shops could be better protected if more CCTV cameras were provided.
“We used to rent units but we’ve had this shop for about four years,” he said.
“It seemed like a good move for us to come here, but then you get things like this happening.
“I think if the council put some more CCTV cameras up it would make a huge difference for shops here.
“Cameras at each end of the town centre and one in the middle would really help.”
•The sign was stolen between 7pm on Thursday, November 15, and 8.30am on Friday, November 16.
Witnesses with any information about the theft should contact police on 101 ext 69191.