Motherwell shoppers who think they have picked up a Christmas bargain have been warned they could be in trouble with the police.
Phoneshop Motherwell in Merry Street was broken into last Monday (November 28) with more than £30,000 of equipment including 50/60 phones, tablets and consoles being stolen.
The thief, unconcerned his actions would prevent owner Jose Gonzalez from putting down a deposit on a home for his pregnant fiancée and unborn son, set up shop down a lane off Brandon Parade East offering the likes of Apple iPhones and Samsung Edges for £30.
Following a police raid on a house in Vulcan Street the next day some property was recovered and a man in now in custody awaiting a January court appearance.
Inspector Alistair Anderson warned there could be consequences for those who got a ‘rogue’s bargain’ if they don’t give up their purchase.
He said: “We realise that most people will have bought these items thinking they were getting a bargain, but they could find themselves being charged with handling stolen goods.
“We are presently pulling together a list of the stolen property and the companies involved looking at technological advances that will allow us to identify persons who have taken advantage of the rogue’s bargain once the devices are activated or registered.
“Imagine the embarrassment of giving a loved one a new phone for Christmas and then they get a chap at the door from the police.
“The fine for being found guilty of reset is far more than the £30 or £40 that may have been paid, so we are asking everyone who bought something to either return it to us or Phoneshop and that will be the end of the matter.”
Jose Gonzalez moved to Motherwell from Spain two years ago to open the store and described the theft as ‘devastating’.
He has had to use money earmarked for a deposit on a house for himself and fiancée Lorraine, who is seven months pregnant with their son JJ, to buy new stock.
Jose said: “They took everything from brand new iPhones to a Blackberry that was in for repair, I was just devastated when I saw it all gone.
“After leaving Barcelona I had worked hard to make a success of the business, got engaged in July and with my son on the way life seemed really good - only for this to happen.
“I was actually due to put down a deposit on a house last week, but I had to use the money to replace what was stolen so didn’t have it any more and we are now back to renting.
“I’m sure people thought they were getting a bargain, but at the same time getting a new iPhone worth £500 for £30 down a lane must have seemed a bit fishy.
“I would urge all those who bought something to heed the advice of the police and hand it in as the technology is such nowadays that as soon as it is used they will know.”
Jose confirmed that the free iPhone 6 giveaway through the store’s Facebook page on December 21 will still go ahead.