It’s a grand building famed for showing classic films from the golden age of black and white cinema – but the latest production to feature on its big screen is more of a homemade ‘whodunit’.
Visitors to the antiques market at the former Regent’s Cinema, on Church Street, will be greeted with the 10-metre screen given over to CCTV footage of the moment a callous thief preyed on an elderly stall holder.
Rick Taylor, who runs the market, has decided to put the building to good use as he tries to track down the man who stole a box of collectible coins worth £500.
After painstakingly restoring the screen in the theatre, which has also previously been used as a bingo hall and snooker club, he decided to use it to publicly i an attempt to track down a brazen thief who walked off with one of his traders’ prized items.
Mr Taylor said: “It makes your blood boil what he did. I want some sort of pay-back, whether its community service or monetary, just to make people think twice.”
Since the thief struck back on June 17 – and with police investigations so far failing to identify the offender – the market has been targeted again.
“We had another incident about a fortnight back,” Mr Taylor added. “I’m trying to nip it in the bud.
“I’m trying to take a stand against thieves and take matters into my own hands.
“That was a box full of collectibles worth about £500. That’s a lot of money to these stall holders – it can make or break them.”
Now the three-minute loop of CCTV footage will be broadcast to anyone in the market, in the hope somebody will recognise the man featured.
Mr Taylor added: “It shows him picking up the box, putting it in his bag and walking out the door. He looks very professional – he does it nice and steadily.”
He said he will be offering an as-yet unspecified reward for anybody who helps catch the thief.
And while any information he receives will be passed on to the police, he said he will seek civil court action against the offender if he has to.
He added: “We will prosecute thieves.”
Police said their investigation into the offence is still ongoing, although no positive identification has yet been made.
Insp James Martin, at Blackpool Central police station, said: “This crime is still under active investigation and we would recommend people ring 101 with information.
“If he wants to put out his own inquiries, while this is not a method the police ordinarily advocate, it is his own CCTV footage and there is nothing to stop him doing that.”
He added officers will be happy to investigate leads that come from the renewed appeal.
Police said a man had entered the historic building, built in 1921 and used as a cinema until 1969, before making off with the wooden coin cabinet.