A SEASIDE business has experienced a "gut-wrenching" increase in shoplifting during the summer of 2023.

Harbour Gifts in West Bay had to re-design its entire layout in order to prevent thieves from entering blind spots.

Tim Attrill owns Harbour Gifts alongside his wife Nicole.

Dorset Echo: Nicole and Tim Attrill, owners of Harbour GiftsNicole and Tim Attrill, owners of Harbour Gifts (Image: Kieran Bell)

The increase in shoplifting over the summer has led to Tim and Nicole refitting their entire shop to try and eliminate shoplifters.

Tim said: "This summer has been rampant, shoplifting is always a problem but this year has been noticeably worse.

"In the height of summer, we were getting items stolen about two or three times a week.

"We have now changed our entire layout from shelves to tables so that all of our stock is at eye level and we don't have any blind spots.

"We have also installed more CCTV so we can see everything going on."

In September, West Bay kiosk Baboo Gelato had its tip jar stolen from the front window, with the perpetrator caught smirking as he stole the money on CCTV.

Speaking at the time, Annie Hanbury, owner of Baboo Gelato said: "It was very sad and it is very low to steal tips.

"I feel very sorry for all of our staff, they are all kids working very hard to earn some money during school holidays so it was very sad for them.

"The staff member who was working in the kiosk at the time was tidying up, it was a quiet point in the afternoon.

"The man was quite brazen about it."

Dorset Police received 11 reports of shoplifting in the Bridport area between June and August 2023.

West Bay businesses are mostly independent shops and stalls owned by locals.

"It is heartbreaking," said Tim, "We work so hard to make the shop nice for the bay and for the community

"We know it happens every year and it is an ongoing battle but this year has been so much worse.

"It is gut-wrenching when we go around and see empty packets where jewellery was or items just taken from shelves.

"People don't realise we are a small independent business, like so many others in West Bay, this affects our turnovers and our livelihoods."