Julie Hitchens in her Uki antique store.
Julie Hitchens in her Uki antique store. Nolan Verheij-Full

Uki retailer takes on shoplifters

ONLY three months after a string of thefts at Julie Hitchens' Uki antique shop, prompting the installation of CCTV, brazen thieves have targeted her again.

Ms Hitchens turned her dream of owning a second-hand store into a reality after winning $1.3million in the Lotto in 2000.

But she is devastated after her five-room antique shop in the Buttery on Kyogle St has attracted just as many shoplifters as it has customers.

Carved swords, mannequins, fine bone china, doc marten boots, luxury handbags - and most recently an ornamental cherub - have been added to a growing list in missing stock for Ms Hitchens, estimated to be worth thousands.

And she's not the only shop owner struggling with shoplifters. Retail theft has jumped 20% in the Tweed Byron command in the past year. Last week, Ms Hitchens caught a repeat offender red-handed and confronted the woman.

"When I caught her I thought, you beauty," Ms Hitchens said.

"I asked to look through her bag and she had taken a few little dresses. I said 'well -that's mine'."

Ms Hitchens told the woman she was going to phone the police.

"She begged me not to. Then she ran off.

"My husband followed her to her car. It was parked nearby, and recorded her Qld number plates before she sped off at a hundred miles per hour."

Tweed Byron LAC Police did not respond to messages from the Tweed Daily News about Ms Hitchens' case.

Ms Hitchens claims police said they could not help her because the shoplifter was from Queensland, where they have no jurisdiction.

"I think they're so busy, its only a small case for them," Ms Hitchens said.

"But that's a bit lousy, don't you think?"



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