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Perth restaurant raider caught after police followed trail of dropped coins

Christopher Anderson broke into Willows coffee shop, Perth
Christopher Anderson broke into Willows coffee shop, Perth

A bungling thief who raided a Perth city centre restaurant was tracked down by police who followed a trail of dropped coins.

Christopher Anderson explained to officers: “I just had a drink and pinched a munchie.”

Willows owner Michael White watched a live feed of housebreaker Anderson rooting through his establishment.

He was seen smashing a till on the floor, before scooping up handfuls of cash.

The 36-year-old grabbed some drinks from the fridge before fleeing the scene.

He was later found hiding behind a parked car after officers followed a tell-tale line of coins leading from a pend next to the restaurant.

Michael White, manager of Willows Coffee Shop.

Anderson, of St Catherine’s Square, appeared at Perth Sheriff Court and admitted breaking into the popular St John Street café on September 15 2021.

He was warned to expect a lengthy prison sentence.

Smashed register

Fiscal depute Michael Sweeney said the restaurant was closed for the night at 6.30pm.

“At 10.50pm that evening, owner Michael White received a notification on his phone that the CCTV at the premises had been activated.

“He then watched a live feed from the restaurant on his phone.

“He saw the accused smashing a cash register on the ground.

“The accused was seen gathering the cash and putting it into his pockets.”

Mr White called police as he watched the broadcast.

Perth Sheriff Court

He gave officers a description of Anderson’s physical appearance and clothing, Mr Sweeney said.

“He saw the accused leave the restaurant.

“But he returned a few minutes later and walked into the bar area and took soft drinks from the fridge.

“The accused left again and walked along an alleyway, towards the high street.”

Giveaway trail

Several police officers went to the scene and spoke to a witness who saw Anderson leaving.

Mr Sweeney said: “Police officers discovered a trail on coins on the ground in the alleyway at the side of the building.

“They followed that trail and found the accused, who was hiding behind a parked car.”

Anderson was arrested and told police: “I did not do it.”

He later said to them: “I just had a drink and pinched a munchie.”

Mr Sweeney said Anderson had caused about £200 worth of damage to locks on the doors.

There was £124 in the till at the time.

Sheriff Gillian Wade deferred sentence until May 19 for background reports.

She told Anderson: “I can’t say how I intend to dispose of this matter but I can tell you that custody is at the forefront of my mind.

“And it is unlikely to be a short sentence.”

The sheriff added: “Do not take the fact that I’ve continued your bail to be any indication of how I might proceed.”

Previous raids

It was not the first time Willows has been targeted by crooks.

In December 2020, William Gillilan smashed his way into the restaurant and made off with the cash register.

William Gillilan

He ripped his leg open on broken glass during the raid and was found by police who followed a trail of blood coming from the café.

The same place was raided in March 2020, during the early days of lockdown.

VIDEO: Watch as hapless thief raids Perth coffee shop in bungled break-in which could have killed him