THE owner of the Village Shop and Post Office in Westwood says he is “absolutely gutted” after being the victim of a £2,100 distraction theft.

Ray Parsons, 74, who runs the My Local store in Lower Westwood, says the theft has been a major blow to his weekly income.

He was working alone at 12.10pm on Friday, October 12, when two men came into the shop and asked to change some money, using the Post Office section.

During the transaction they confused Mr Parsons before making off with the original money they brought in to exchange, as well as the quantity of notes he had prepared for them.

Unbeknown to him, one of the men had also gone behind the counter and had stolen a large quantity of cash.

Mr Parsons said: “The first man presented me with £600 in £10 notes and said he wanted it to be swapped for £20s.

“Then he changed his mind and said he wanted it all in Euros, so I went to the back of the shop to get them from the safe.

“While I was doing that, one of them went behind the counter and stole some money from the till.”

“I never saw him do it and when I was coming back to the counter, the first man semi-blocked me and said he wanted the money back.

“I gave him the money because it was his. He said they would go to a ‘proper’ Post Office to change it.

“I then went back to the safe to make sure it was locked. When I came back, I found they had grabbed a handful of cash from the drawer, totalling around £2,100.

“They were very professional.I am absolutely gutted. I had no idea they had been behind the counter and that I was being stitched up.

“It’s something that I can ill afford to lose. It’s a major thing for a little village shop. We are struggling as it is.”

Police have released CCTV images of two men they would like to speak to in connection with the theft and fraud incident.

Anyone who recognises the men or who has information about the incident is asked to contact PC Paul Baldock, from Wiltshire West Community Policing Team, on 101, quoting crime reference 54180096753.

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.