Rather than immediately calling the police when two pairs of binoculars – valued at £150 each – disappeared from the Wetland Centre over the Christmas period, the National Trust for Jersey used Facebook to declare a ‘binocular amnesty’.
The theft of the binoculars brings the number of pairs taken from the centre last year to three.
‘Due to a significant rise in binocular-related crime at our Wetland Centre over the past year, the National Trust for Jersey are declaring an amnesty,’ the post read.
‘We would like to appeal to the better nature of the persons responsible for removing the binoculars from the centre over the Christmas period by asking that they return them as soon as possible. This would save both ourselves and the police the time and effort involved with reviewing CCTV footage of the incident.’
Although more than 15,000 people have read the post, the binoculars are still missing, so the National Trust has given the culprits one last chance to put them back otherwise CCTV footage will be handed over to the police.
The Wetland Centre, which opened in February 2014 and attracts about 25,000 people a year, is situated overlooking St Ouen’s Pond and has panoramic views over the wetland.
It is not manned but thanks to an automatic door opening and locking system, the centre is secure overnight.
Having watched CCTV footage, National Trust conservation officer John Rault says it shows three people in the centre at dusk on 28 December, who it appears are removing the binoculars.
‘We are trying to give these people the opportunity to return them as it is hardly the crime of the century,’ he said. ‘We have been reluctant to tell the police up to now as they would have been spending all their time sorting out others matters because of the bad weather. We are appealing to the culprits’ better nature in the hope that they will return them.’
Mr Rault says the binoculars were easily removable following an unrelated incident in the early hours of Christmas Eve also caught on CCTV.
The footage shows three men in the centre about 2.30 am pulling the binoculars, which were chained to a wall, out of their fixings. However, no other damage was reported and the binoculars were still there on 28 December.
As there were were no signs of a break-in, Mr Rault said the automatic locking system must have failed in the extreme weather conditions so site security is under review.