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Burglar Bill's brought to book in Warminster
When Warminster Library decided to hold a stories and craft event based around the classic children’s book Burglar Bill on Tuesday, the last thing staff expected was to be accused of setting a bad example to kids.
But John Bowley, 69, a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator who lives in Teichman Close, Warminster, did exactly that, suggesting that the event and story encourages children to emulate burglars.
The event, which invited four to 11-year-olds to come dressed in a stripey top like the story’s main character, involved a reading of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s tale, as well as craft exercises such as making a mask.
Burglar Bill tells the story of a burglar who eats a stolen supper each night before going out and breaking into houses. However, a series of events eventually leads Bill to turn over a new leaf.
Mr Bowley, who has been part of the neighbourhood watch for four years, said: “The crime of burglary is one of the most feared among homeowners and I don’t think this story sets a good example for children. I object to the humanisation of the criminal.
“I saw the poster advertising the event in the window display at Warminster Library and was appalled to see something encouraging children to dress up as criminals.
“I didn’t raise my concerns with the library as I suspected that I would get nowhere, but I think it’s totally wrong.”
“While the Burglar Bill in the story eventually reforms in an improbable manner, in reality most criminals do not reform and hardly ever make it right for their victims.”
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council, which runs the library, said the Burglar Bill story is a well known classic by an award-winning author, one that has been enjoyed by generations of children and has a good moral at the end.
Jen Gale, who was at the event with her two sons, William, four, and Samuel, two, said: “Kids just see it as a story. They wouldn’t see it as encouraging them to burgle, so I have no problem with it.”
Police Inspector Alan Webb said: “I hope that the children have taken away from the library’s reading the message that to be a burglar or criminal is wrong, and also how to recognise if someone is committing a crime and that they should then inform the police or their parents.”
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