The online tool, created by Richard Payne-Withers of Bridport Antiques and Paul Henshaw of Fountain Antiques in nearby Honiton, went live on Facebook last month.
‘Antiques Watchdog’ encourages dealers across the country to post information of thefts as well as photos and descriptions of items that have been taken.
The site includes crime reference numbers with all information approved by the site’s administrators (Payne-Withers and Henshaw).
The idea – to be followed by an Instagram page of the same name this month – was prompted by a series of thefts across the local area.
Same day thefts
Bridport reported the theft of about £350 worth of stock on November 14 – the same day £300 worth of silver – two spoons and a pepper mill – was taken from Fountain.
Dealers have submitted CCTV footage posted on the site to the police.
"Hopefully, through social media, we’ll be able to clamp down on shoplifters"
Barnsley Antiques Centre in South Yorkshire has also been in touch with the site with information about a theft that took place on November 23.
“Hopefully, through social media, we’ll be able to clamp down on shoplifters and burglaries, have these people charged and goods recovered,” says Payne-Withers. He adds that they are taking precautions with the content of the page to ensure that it includes no libellous submissions.
A spokesperson for the Dorset police said that the CCTV footage received from Bridport Antiques is currently under review.
The spokesperson added: “We would always encourage shopkeepers to report any thefts and supply us with any CCTV so we can investigate.
“We would always guide shopkeepers toward their responsibilities under the Information Commissioner’s code of practice in relation to the use of CCTV footage.”
Anyone with information on any of the thefts mentioned in this story is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting the following crime reference numbers:
The Facebook page can be found at: www.facebook.com/AntiquesWatchdog-1129947677175137/