Praise for homeless woman and dog who challenged beauty shop thief
A homeless woman and her dog who "courageously" confronted a thief were able to return goods worth over £1,000 stolen from a beauty store.
Staff at the Oxford branch of Lush said they felt invaded "on a personal level" after they discovered a laptop and large box of cosmetics had disappeared when they opened the store on Wednesday.
Twenty-four hours later, Lottie - who is homeless and has been sleeping outside the store on and off for around five years - marched in with the stolen products, having successfully challenged the man who took them.
The store has since set up an online campaign to raise money for Lottie to express their thanks, raising more than £400 so far.
Store manager James Atherton said staff were "completely surprised" to be reunited with the stolen items.
The 26-year-old said: "We were amazed and just so joyful. It was fantastic. We weren't expecting to get them back at all.
"She confronted him as he walked out. She said: 'I know you are not from Lush', and took the stuff back. This was around 4am."
On their Facebook page staff, describing themselves as a "family", wrote: "We have known Lottie for years, and have always felt safer with her outside of our shop.
"Lottie knows us, knows our delivery staff, knows Lush.
"She knew that the man walking out of our shop was not us, and she did the extraordinarily brave thing of challenging him.
"We want to share what Lottie did with all of you, because we are greatly moved by her selfless actions in protecting us, and want to thank her from the bottom of our hearts."
Mr Atherton said he believes Lottie's dream is to own a caravan, but that she would decide how the money was spent, and any extra would go to charities helping homeless people in Oxford.
Lush has a proud history of campaigning for issues involving human rights, animal cruelty and the environment, Mr Atherton added, and the Cornmarket Street branch has been active in opposing cuts to services in Oxford.
Earlier this week, David Cameron's mother and aunt signed a petition opposing Oxfordshire County Council cuts that would result in 44 children's centres being closed. The Prime Minister has previously expressed "disappointment" against cuts in his capacity as MP for Witney.
Mr Atherton said: "It's awful - almost hypocritical that he puts forward these cuts for the country and opposes those in his constituency - it's such a shame.
"Oxford is quite a divided city - such extreme wealth and also a lot of vulnerable people. More cuts will really affect people like Lottie.
"We are really hoping to support Lottie to repay her for her amazing kindness. We have given her a hamper of food and Lush products but it doesn't seem enough.
"There is a lot of stigma attached to homeless people, and this proves those feelings wrong. Kindness is kindness."
:: To donate to the appeal for Lottie visit www.gofundme.com/hnwj2dfd.