A North Mundham resident who was the victim of a high-value theft has said victims of low-level crime have no avenue to ensure justice is properly done.
Justin Anwyl runs the salt water flyfishing school Bass-Fishing in Chichester Harbour and on June 27 had a £650 outboard motor stolen from his boat – the third theft he has experienced in nine years.
Luckily, Mr Anwyl’s motor was recovered from a Bognor Regis man’s home a month later, but Mr Anwyl was told the man would not be prosecuted because he had no previous convictions. During this time Mr Anwyl had to spend £1,000 on a new motor so he could continue his business, and lost two days’ work as a result. He was also told his insurance would not be valid.
Mr Anwyl said while he had absolutely no criticism of the police, who had done a good job, he was disappointed with the system which did not act as a deterrent and allowed people to walk away with a ‘slap on the wrist’.
After being told a prosecution would not take place, Mr Anwyl decided to look into taking out a civil action against the man in the small claims court to recover his lost earnings and other costs incurred following the theft, but abandoned the idea because it would leave him out of pocket.
“I was told by my solicitor that if I took out a small claims case, I would have to pay all the costs myself, I could claim for loss of earnings but I couldn’t sue the man for the value of the engine because I got it back.
“Because of the system, this person gets set free with a slap on the wrist and I don’t think this is good enough.
“You are never going to stop organised crime; however petty theft – which probably feeds all sorts of crime – is rife. This does not disincentivise people. It degrades communities and it degrades society.
“I then want to take the guy to court and I can’t – the law isn’t actually on my side economically.”
Mr Anwyl said the police’s hands seemed to be tied and in light of the riots last month, it was important authorities in charge of law and order were protected from cuts.
“What we are paying for with our taxes is basic law and order: people want to feel safe in their homes and need to know their possessions are safe. Of the things which need cutting back, the framework on which community operates a lawful society shouldn’t be one of them.”