London

Croydon burglary victim 'threatened' over wanted dead or alive poster

Wanted poster on side of Sebastian Stephenson's house Image copyright Sebastian Stephenson
Image caption Sebastian Stephenson said police told him he was inciting public disorder

A burglary victim says he has been threatened with arrest after he put up a wanted banner on the side of his house to try and find the thief.

Builder Sebastian Stephenson, 34 from Croydon, hung the poster which said "Wanted: Dead or Alive" alongside a CCTV photograph of the alleged thief.

The police told him he had to change it as it was inciting public disorder.

The Met said Mr Stephenson had not been arrested and that the investigation into the theft continues.

Mr Stephenson said the alleged thief had targeted him four times and had taken more than £4,000 worth of tools.

After the first couple of thefts, he installed CCTV cameras outside his house which filmed the tools being taken.

He said he called the police saying "here is the burglar" and urged them to send a picture from the Met's Twitter accounts and other social media to raise awareness to other builders.

When this did not happen, Mr Stephenson uploaded the CCTV footage to YouTube and paid £300 for a Facebook post on the incident to be promoted to users in the Croydon area.

Image copyright Sebastian Stephenson
Image caption Mr Stephenson said burglary was not low level crime

Still frustrated at the police's response, he decided to print the banner.

"I want him to drive back and see his face. [But] within 24 hours the police came back to arrest me for inciting public disorder and said I must take the sign down immediately.

When asked why he included the "Dead or Alive" line he said: "Everybody knows it's just a cowboy and western reference, like Clint Eastwood."

He has now marked out the word dead.

After the poster went up, he said he had people who lived close by to him saying they had had their tools stolen too.

"Burglary is important. My home has been violated. When I told my wife I was going away for work she said 'you're leaving me alone with a thief' - see it's affecting her.

"At night I'm checking the van through the window to see if it's still there. My children keep asking if I've caught the thief so it's on their mind.

"It's not low-level crime."

The Met said anyone with information should contact 101 or Crimestoppers.