A business has been left counting the cost of a £1,000-plus repair bill created by a disgruntled customer - all over a £2 part.
Ecig Wizard in Park Lane, Sunderland, had to foot the expense after a man punched the glass top and then threw a plant pot across the shop floor, with stock also damaged in the confrontation.
Now the business’s bosses are furious after the man, who also involved his girlfriend in the argument, was given a caution by police and not taken to court.
Mark Harburn, who runs the shop with mum Christine, say their staff member Paula Gray was threatened with violence during the incident, where the girlfriend demanded a refund.
The business says the vaper only needed a £2 coil to get it working again.
The caution followed months of inquiries by officers, with the Harburns stating they were told that because less than £5,000 worth of damage was caused and other issues, such as the man’s joblessness and depression, he would not be charged.
The staff member was shook up and nearly left her job over it unless we got more security measures in place.Mark Harburn
Mark said: “Obviously this isn’t acceptable, that a person can do something like this and get off Scott-free.
“The staff member was shook up and nearly left her job over it unless we got more security measures in place.
“On top of all the damage we’ve now added a radio system at £240 a year to make the staff feel more secure.
“To us, the justice system is a disgrace.
“We’re never going to get our money back and it’s upsetting because we’re not really going to see anything done about it.
“I think he should have been locked up for a week at least, just so he could have a think about what he did.”
The girlfriend of the man also created part of the mess after throwing leaflets across the store.
Northumbria Police said it follows national guidance to assist in determining the appropriate disposal for an offence.
This details “gravity scores” as well as aggravating and mitigating circumstances that may need to be taken into account and provides a matrix to advise on the suggested action corresponding to the final gravity score, which is between one and four.
Non-charge disposals are subject a criteria and can only be issued if this has been met.
Criminal damage where the damage is under £5,000 is considered for a simple caution, with previous offending taken into account.
Where there is no previous offending a simple caution and a full admission to the offence was made, it would be accepted that a simple caution is a suitable disposal.
Neighbourhood Inspector for the city centre, Jamie Southwell, said: “We recognise the frustration the victim may feel and that they may have wished for a stronger disposal, however it is important to say a caution does go on a person’s criminal record and is taken into account should they become involved in any other criminal offences.”