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PSNI apology over 'scallywag firebugs' Facebook post over pallet theft bid

Police 'keeping pallets safe'

Published 19/07/2016

The pallets the police were able to save. Pic PSNI
The pallets the police were able to save. Pic PSNI
The coats left behind by the youths. Pic PSNI Newtownabbey

Police have apologised over a post on Facebook about the attempted theft of pallets from a Newtownabbey business.

Last week the PSNI appealed to young "scallywag firebugs" to contact its officers over an attempt to steal pallets from a Newtownabbey business.

Officers attended to a report of suspicious activity in the Longlands area close to the Abbey Centre shopping centre.

They caught a youth at the scene while others managed to evade capture.

However, they left behind their coats and an expensive smartphone.

Police urged their owners to contact officers - before they are able to access the information held on the phone - in a post with the hash tag "keeping pallets safe."

More: PSNI appeal to 'scallywag firebugs' over attempts to steal pallets from Newtownabbey business

In the early hours of Friday morning, an officer wrote on Facebook : "Tonight we got a call from a concerned member of the public in The Longlands area.

"A number of young scallywags were seen attempting to steal pallets from a local business.

"We managed to catch up with at least one of the young boys and he will be dealt with accordingly. Although pallets are seen by some as just bits of wood, they are quite costly to businesses to replace and it’s usually a local person owns that business."

The officer added: "A number of the the ‘firebugs’ did however get away.

"They’ll be feeling the cold tonight though as they left behind the coats their Mammy bought them for Christmas. One of them even left behind an expensive smart phone. If anyone would like to come forward and claim their belongings we would be very very very keen to speak with you! (Before we go through your phone)."

Hundreds responded to the post on the social media site. Many were quick to point out the use of the language chosen to describe the youths and others questioned the police response to Eleventh Night bonfires and how so many pallets are found to burn on them.

Yesterday the police apologised.

An officer wrote: "It is clear this post has got plenty of people talking.

"Firstly, we would like to apologise for the language we used - it was never our intention to cause offence. We were responding to a report of theft and took the opportunity to use the power of social media to help us identify the owners of the property left behind.

"We are here to keep everyone safe and when crimes are reported to us we will investigate however there is learning for us here too and we aim to do better next time. We appreciate those who follow us on Facebook and Twitter and constructive criticism is always welcome."

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