A TYNEDALE optometrist has hit out after thieves targeted the practice.

Nicolle Croft, co-owner and practice & business development manager at Croft and Graves Optometrists, said a £270 pair of Tom Ford frames were taken from their shop on Friday (November 12) at around 2.45pm.

Nicolle said: “I was off-site at the time, but my colleague said they noticed this guy in the shop window looking in, but of course we have a shop window, everyone looks in.

“As soon as we had only one member of staff on the shop floor, the individual came in. The member of staff spoke to the gentleman, he said wanted to have a browse, and she said ‘well yes that’s absolutely fine, have a browse, if you want any assistance please ask us’. But then another client came in so she was attending to the client.

“So while she was obviously distracted, he helped himself to a pair of spectacles and slipped it up his sleeves.”

Nicolle said their staff are “shaken” following the incident at the shop, which is on Hill Street in Corbridge.

“They feel a sense of belonging to this business. It’s their business as much as it is my husband’s and mine,” she said.

“They take a pride on where they work, and so for them, it’s like a sense of loss.”

She added: “The key thing is my staff are safe, they weren’t harmed, none of their personal belongings were taken, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for. They are far more important.

“Thankfully, we only lost one pair on this occasion. But whether it’s one or five or 10, it’s irrelevant. We’re just trying to make a living.”

She said the optometrists, which first opened 12 years ago, were also a victim of shoplifting in 2019.

“That time, they took five pairs of sunglasses, worth a total of £1,700,” said Nicolle.

“We put in a lot more measures when we had the last shoplift, and it’s just something else you have to go back to the drawing board about, and think about how you can deter these people.”

Nicolle said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are currently seeing half the number of patients they used to.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Officers are investigating the theft of a pair of frames from an opticians on Hill Street.”