AN APPEAL has been launched after a mobile phone was stolen from a worker in a charity shop.

Wendy Fatuga, 50, was working in the Southend Hospital Charity Shop, in the Broadway, Leigh, when two people distracted her and stole her phone.

Ms Fatuga, who has worked for the shop for a year, said: “This couple entered the shop and immediately went straight to the back.

“I was with another customer at the time so didn’t notice they were watching me.

“I then went into the back room to use my phone and make a cup of coffee for my volunteer who was with me that day.

“I don’t leave my phone out so when I had finished using it, I hid it away. I became aware that he was watching me from the back of the shop.

“As I was coming out with the coffee, he was stood in the doorway to the back and I told him he couldn’t go in there.

“He followed me through the shop to the front counter and kind of stood in front of me so I couldn’t go anywhere.

“That’s when the other woman snuck into the back and took my iPhone.”

The crime was captured on multiple CCTV cameras and Ms Fatuga has shared the images across social media and to police. She added: “I don’t know whether this was planned or a crime of opportunity.

“I think they target charity shops because they think they won’t have very good security.

“Luckily, because this is part of the NHS, we have a CCTV system in here. I have posted their images in my shop window and warned all the other charity shops in the area. I don’t want anyone else to be targeted.”

Ms Fatuga described the woman as having medium-sized tattoos on her right ankle, her left chest and her left shoulder blade.

She added: “I’m just angry that someone would come into my space and take my personal belongings. It’s been a nightmare without it because I live on my phone.

“Thankfully, my pictures and things are backed up on the Cloud but then I start worrying about all my personal details on there.”

If you recognise the couple or have any information about the incident contact Essex Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.