POLICE are hoping to trace a violent racist shoplifter via his pet dog.
Detectives from St Helens police’s anti hate crime Sigma team say an abandoned white Staffordshire bull terrier could hold the key to catching a thief who struck at a convenience store.
In the incident, a man ran out of the Londis shop on Bradlegh Road, Newton-le-Willows, after helping himself to £20 worth of beer and cigarettes - before cheekily returning moments later in a bid to collect his pet dog.
But when he was challenged by shopkeeper Satish Patel’s wife, Falguni, 42, he hit her in the face with a can of beer, knocking her to the ground, before racially abusing her.
Then, when a brave customer who had just parked up set off after the offender, he was left with no choice but to run off towards the canal, leaving his dog at the scene.
Mr Patel, 54, told the Reporter: “This man put everything on the counter and asked for two bags - so I thought he must have come to the shop on a bike. He started looking at me up and down before asking for cigarettes and I realised he was going to rob me.
“I grabbed one of the bags and he ran out of the shop with the other. My wife then returned to the shop from town just as he tried to come back and pick up his dog and he hit her in the head with a can. He was trying to hit me too before a customer started chasing after him.”
Mr Patel, who has run the Haverty Precinct store for the last 16 years, added: “I had seen this man a couple of times before but he’s not a regular customer.
“All our regulars think it’s terrible this has happened - especially to a woman. Thankfully, my wife is okay now, but we were both pretty shaken up.”
Following the incident, which took place at about 2pm on Monday, October 24, Falguni Patel described the offender as a white man in his mid 20s who was wearing a navy blue hooded top, tracksuit trousers and a hat to cover his short spiky hair.
And Newton-le-Willows neighbourhood inspector Steve Lowe said the suspect’s “friendly” dog, which is now in the hands of St Helens Council’s dog wardens, could be the key to tracing the offender.
He said: “This was a thoroughly unpleasant incident in which a local shopkeeper and his wife not only had goods stolen but were subjected to racist abuse and an assault.
“Fortunately for us he left his dog at the shop so we are appealing for anyone who recognises it and knows who its owner is to contact the police so we can investigate these serious offences.”
Anyone with information can call DS Yoseph Al-Ramadhan at St Helens CID on 0151 777 6070 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.