The Dyfed-Powys County Police in Wales have sparked outrage after telling the victim of a burglary that she caused “distress” to the thieves who ransacked her small hotel.
According to the Daily Mail, a couple departed the Dolphin Hotel in Pembroke Dock on Sunday with whatever their hands could carry, including “luxury towels, two lamps, an electric fan, clock radio, tower extension block, kettle and tea caddy.”
The suspected thieves, Martine Rendell and her boyfriend, arrived at the £80-a-night hotel last Saturday without luggage. The following morning, video surveillance caught them grabbing empty bags from their vehicle, which they brought to their hotel room.
Police reportedly tracked the suspected thieves down through a bank card attached to the room booking.
Upon being questioned by police, Rendell and her boyfriend initially attempted to claim their possessions had been stolen after returning to their room. But the hotel’s owner, Natalie Newton, disputed their statement, noting that they hadn’t reported anything to management during the course of their stay.
Following the incident, Newton shared photos of the alleged thieves on Facebook with a caption that read: “This woman and her partner booked a room with us for one Saturday night and literally stole all the contents from the room.”
In one surveillance photo, the burglars are seen grinning at the camera while fleeing the scene with an estimated £200 worth of goods. According to The Sun, the only items left in their room were soap and shampoo.
Although Newton says she was shocked by the situation due to the couple’s friendly demeanor when checking into the hotel, she was even more dismayed after the police asked her to delete the photos she had shared of them online.
“The officer’s exact words were that it was causing them distress,” said Newton, who added: “I don’t want to be hard or spiteful, but they should have thought of that before they took everything from the room.”
News of what the police had said Newton was met with outrage on X (formerly Twitter), with many users appalled that she was being chastised for calling out criminals.
One user, who goes by the handle @ravenette asked: “Just [whose] side are the police supposed to be on?”
Another user pointed out that the police should be more sympathetic toward the hotel owner, who was the victim of burglary.
“What about the distress of the hotel owner,” the user asked, “since when was theft not a crime?”
Newton, who is saddened by the situation, told the Daily Mail that her goal in posting the photos was “to warn other hoteliers and Air B&Bs to be on the lookout” for the thieves in case they strike again.