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POLICE have warned a jeweller for “racially offensive” conduct after he banned Romanian gypsies following a series of raids on his store.

Michael Plant, 62, believes the east European travellers are behind the raids in which gems are snatched while other members of the gang distract staff.

But when he placed a sign in his shop window saying that he did not serve Romanian or east European gypsies he was told by a senior police officer to take it down – or face prosecution on race-hate charges.

Police have been unable to trace the thieves.

Mr Plant, who has run his jewellery shop in Altrincham, Cheshire, with his Austrian wife Monika, 62, for 22 years said: “I’m not racist, but the fact is I have been targeted repeatedly by eastern European criminals.

“I should have a right to say which people come into my shop and not face allegations of racial discrimination.

“I should be able to choose whom I serve. That’s not just eastern Europeans – if someone comes in drunk they will not be served either.

“All I want is a commonsense approach. The police are reactive rather than proactive to crime, they wait for it to happen before they solve it, rather than the other way round.

“I think these Romanians and eastern European criminals are letting their fellow countrymen down. Obviously I don’t think all of them are bad, but how can I distinguish who is good and who is bad?

“I’ve got a foreign wife and we have foreign friends. But some people coming in to this country illegally seem to have more rights than me.”

Mr Plant made a stand after the latest theft last Saturday when a man’s gold wedding ring was stolen.

He added: “They always say they’re Spanish, but they aren’t. I speak more Spanish than them. They use distraction techniques like a child running around and they get away with your stock. One morning I lost nine bracelets, worth well into four figures.

“I think they must pass our name around because about every five or six weeks I get another group of people, sometimes with or without children.

“They come in and ask for something and we usually haven’t got it. They’re quicker than Paul Daniels.”

Following the latest incident Mr Plant called in police, then put the notice on the door on Monday. He got a warning from senior officers shortly afterwards offering him “words of advice” about the message.

He added: “This sign was written in anger after the latest robbery. I feared we would get more in that afternoon.

“I emailed the local police inspector to say what I had put up on the sign and I was told to take it down immediately.

“I’ve reported incidents to the police in the past. I’ve had several robberies over the years and the capture of criminals is very low. I bet if these people are caught for stealing, they probably wouldn’t even go into a magistrates court.

“They would just get a fixed penalty fine and that would be paid by one of the human rights organisations. The taxpayer pays for it all.”

Police said Mr Plant had fallen foul of the Race Relations Act which recognises gypsies and travellers as ethnic groups. continues here

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