BRAZEN thieves targeted a prom shop in broad daylight - filling up their bags with dresses worth a whopping £4,000 in front of a shocked store worker.

Ria Carroll, owner of Ri Ri’s Prom and Occasion Wear on Billericay High Street, says she has never experienced anything like this in her seven years of owning the boutique.

Three women targeted the business while staff were busy packing ahead of the move to their new premises next door.

The 32-year-old boss, who is from Billericay, says she has now lost a young member of the team who wanted to leave after being so shaken up by the theft.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Some of the dresses stolen

Ria explained: “It was about 3.30pm on Saturday, and where we’re in the midst of opening the larger store next door I was back and fourth between the two.

“Our junior team member is only 17 and so when the three ladies came in even though we were closed to the public where we had no appointments booked in, I think she was a bit nervous about turning them away.

“She was sorting out bits behind the till and helping pack up ready for the move when they just started filling their bags, or maybe even compartments in their clothes, with eight of our dresses worth about £4,000. The police said they must be professionals.

“The poor thing just froze, she didn’t know what to do or whether to confront them, which I’d have never wanted her to do anyway.

“It really is gutting for us all, but it’s not about the money. Not only have we been violated, but we’ve lost our junior member who has now left because of this and is very shaken up by the situation, when she was my brilliant little protege.

“We were robbed in broad daylight.”

Ria says the theft has sadly cast a dark shadow over what should be a really exciting time for the team, with their new shop set to open for the first time on Saturday at 10am.

She continued: “We’ve been waiting for this moment since I started looking into this last November. It’s been a long time coming for us all.

“It really has affected me and taken the excitement from the new opening. It’s really scary anyway when we’ve not been really busy as it is and signed the lease three weeks before lockdown.

“Thankfully our new store has a buzzer intercom system fitted so that only scheduled appointments will be allowed to enter.

“Thankfully a witness spotted them looking suspicious and followed them to the station, so the police will be looking at CCTV. If anyone else can help, please come forward.”

Call 101 quoting reference number 42/169212/20 with information.