Burglars break into one of York’s best-known shops

Police outside Mary Shortle on Lord Mayor's Walk. Photograph: Mary Shortle on Facebook
19 Apr 2020 @ 3.48 pm
| Crime

The Mary Shortle doll shop has been broken into, and items worth hundreds of pounds stolen.

The burglary took place at about 11.30pm on Friday night (17 April).

Victoria Shortle, one of the family who own the business, said she discovered the break-in when she went to visit the shop on Lord Mayor’s Walk with her father on Saturday lunchtime.

Burglars had accessed a passage between the shop and its neighbour, the Giant bike store. They smashed open the side door.

The burglars went into the first floor holiday apartment – which is currently unoccupied – and also broke through a door to a stock room.

Victoria said up to 12 boxed dolls from the 2020 collection were taken, which typically retail at between £70 and £120 each.

Police response amazing

Photograph: Photograph © Google Street View

Victoria said: “It’s very sad. Things are challenging enough for everybody.

“We’re trying to keep really positive, but something like this knocks you flying for 24 hours.”

She was full of praise for police, who arrived at the scene within 20 minutes of the call. “York police were absolutely amazing,” she said.

Scene of crime officers were quickly at the shop, which first opened in 1977.

And they accessed the CCTV footage of the suspects.

Police have made a number of arrests and charged two people with burglary, Victoria said.

Changes for the future

When the lockdown was introduced it was a major blow to all retailers.

Victoria, who also has two shops in Leeds, said she spent the first week in shock.

But since then she has ramped up her online sales operation, arranging deliveries from her office rather than the shops.

Because the dolls are what she describes as “emotional” purchases, people like to see and handle them. As that’s not possible she is doing more videos on the business’s YouTube channel.

It’s helped increase online sales, which means Victoria has been able to keep on her home workers who hand paint and assemble the dolls.

Once the emergency has passed she plans to restructure the business to reflect what she feels will be permanent changes in people’s shopping habits.

That might include finding a distribution warehouse, and doing more events and parties.

“We’ve been in business 43 years – and you’re growing and learning all the time,” she said.