TEENAGER Drew Robson was left heartbroken when a thief snatched the presents he had bought for his parents.
The 14-year-old had only just got the spa set for his mum Susan, 38, and aftershave for dad Andrew, 36, when they were snatched while he shopped with a pal.
But the family’s Christmas was not ruined after two businesses gave Drew vouchers to replace the stolen goods, which he had bought with his pocket money.
The thief struck as the teenager, of Parkside, Seaham, was in the town’s Argos store. CCTV footage showed a woman walk in and take the bag Drew had put down.
“I was very upset,” said the youngster, who lives with his parents and brother Luke, 12, a fellow pupil at St Aidan’s School in Sunderland.
“I think she must have been watching us because apparently she went in, saw the bag on the floor and took it from the shop.”
Dad Andrew, a stevedore at the Port of Sunderland, said: “The first we knew about it was when my wife got a telephone call off the police telling her what had happened.
“The police have told us this woman was about 50, not some young lady.
“But we’ve not let it ruin Christmas by a long shot.”
PCSO Carole Hutton, who covers the shopping centre, said: “The lad was gutted.
“He’d bought these presents with his pocket money. He had only put the bag down for a matter of seconds. This crime will not be tolerated.
“Anyone who shoplifts will be banned from the shopping centre, and that includes Asda.”
To compensate Drew for the loss of the presents, Argos and Byron Place shopping centre each presented him with a £10 voucher.
CCTV footage of the incident, which happened at about 1pm on Saturday, December 17, is being reviewed by police as part of inquiries.
All businesses in the centre, along with other stores including Aldi, Clive Todd’s newsagent and DJV Autoparts, are part of the town’s Shopwatch scheme, which has been credited with reducing shoplifting and other crimes in the town centre.
Anyone with information can contact Durham Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.