A GANG of shoplifters who are targeting a Morley petrol station are being hunted by police.
Morley Service Station on Victoria Road, which also serves as a post office, has had hundreds of pounds worth of goods taken by the same three men over the past week.
Only on Monday one of the men tried to walk out of the store carrying jars of coffee in his coat, but was stopped in his tracks by two members of staff.
Manager Kussum Mistry said: “We’ve started putting the baskets behind the counter instead of near the door now to stop them filling them up and walking out, which is what they have been doing.
“It was around 7.25pm on Monday when one of the lads walked in and started filling his coat up with jars of coffee. Two members of staff noticed him and locked the door while calling the police.
“He realised the door was locked and walked back to the shelves and put the coffee back before trying to get out of the back staff door, which has a coded lock on it - so he jumped over the counter and ran out the back way.
“But staff still tried to grab hold of him and his coat came off before he ran out. Both of them are really brave for what they did.”
Raj Patel, who is a partner in Brookfields, which owns the service station, said he believed the three men would keep stealing from the store until they were caught.
“They are taking basket loads of coffee and meat every day. I think it’s a gang operating because they all do the exact same thing. They walk in, take a basket and walk about for few minutes before heading for the coffee and meat .
“Dozens of jars of coffee have been stolen and it’s all the higher valued stock. They probably then take it to a pub or something and sell it on.”
Mrs Mistry, who has managed the shop since June 2007, said: “It’s happening every day now, at different times and they change coats, but it’s the same men. They are completely clearing the shelves.
“We’re talking about £60, £80 and even up to £100 worth of goods every time.
“If we’re busy serving it’s impossible to keep an eye on everything, especially on a night when we have to keep an eye on the forecourt.
“I’m really frustrated by it all, annoyed by the cheek of them.
“You might get people taking the odd bar of chocolate but this is on a major scale and at a time when other customers are in the shop.
“I don’t know how they have the guts to do what they do. I just want them to be caught - and they will be. It’s impossible to get away with it in the long run. We have CCTV cameras everywhere and have clear pictures of them.
Mrs Mistry said they have reported the thefts to the police and handed over the CCTV recordings.
Acting Insp Nick Haigh, of Morley Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are treating these incidents very seriously and carrying out enquiries to trace the people responsible.
“It is completely unacceptable that there are people out there who think they can repeatedly target a local business in this way and we will be doing all we can to catch them and prevent any further incidents.”
Anyone who recognises the men show in the CCTV images or who has any information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact Morley NPT on 0113 2382035 or via the non-emergency number 101.