‘Honesty’ shop hit by first theft in over 50 years

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jun 19, 2015 02:28 IST

A community shop in a picturesque isle in Scotland that runs on the principle of honesty — you list what you have taken in a book and leave the money in a box — has been hit by the first theft in over 50 years.

The shop in the Isle of Canna in the Inner Hebrides is also left open overnight to enable fishermen to dock nearby and take whatever they need at any time. It has worked for decades, until June 12.

Volunteers who run the only shop in Canna found to their dismay that several items had been taken away, without any record in the book or equivalent money in the honesty box. The tightly-knit local community believes it must be the handiwork of tourists.

Missing items included sweets, toiletries, batteries and six hand-knitted hats. Canna does not have a police presence and the last theft there was reported in the 1960s.

The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust said: “This is the first time this has happened and we are all gutted by it. The
thieves cleared the shelves. Most upsetting for Julie (the shop manager) was they stole six of her hand-knitted Canna wool hats that were in the shop on a sale or return basis. These hats are all unique."

It added: “The thieves would have had to fill carrier bags with the amount of items they took. Sadly, this means we will have to lock the door of the shop overnight. We left it open specifically to welcome fisherman in to use the wi-fi and buy anything while resting in at our pier overnight."

Police Scotland said the police in Mallaig — the nearest station — received a report of the theft on June 14. The police said it was looking to speak to members of the public and those on board fishing vessels which were moored at Canna Pier around the time of the incident.

Community Policing Inspector David Campbell said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Isle of Canna Community Shop has been targeted by opportunistic thieves who have taken advantage of this community’s trusting nature."

Councillor Bill Clark, who has represented the area for 13 years, said: “It’s quite unbelievable, something you do not hear about at all in the Inner Isles. I would think this is the first crime in years — I doubt very much if anyone even locks their doors there.”

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