A FOREIGN gang duped a Gorse Hill off-licence out of £3,000 after pretending they couldn't understand English.

The distraction burglary took place at Wollens Off-Licence in Cricklade Road when three men and three women, thought to be of eastern European origin, entered the store and starting speaking to the owner who was behind the counter.

The owner, who wants to remain anonymous, was asked by one of the group to tell them more about a bottle of wine.

The owner said the man was speaking in a very fake accent, and he got the impression that the man was pretending not to understand English very well.

As the other members of the group, who are in their 20s, kept the owner talking, CCTV cameras caught a female going out to the back of the shop and stealing the shop's takings.

She can then be seen returning moments later and putting the money up her jumper.

The group then suddenly decided which bottle of wine they wanted, paid and left quickly.

It wasn't until the owner and his wife went to cash up that night that they realised the money had been stolen.

Police have just released information about the incident, which happened last Saturday at about 4pm.

"We were devastated when we looked at the CCTV footage," said the wife of the shop owner.

"We never usually keep that amount of money on the premises, it was a one-off.

"No-one saw or heard anything at the time. I was out the back cooking dinner.

"All the doors were open, I just cannot believe they had the nerve to come into our private quarters."

The couple have run the off licence for the past 16 years, and she said that apart from one incident just after they took over, nothing like this had ever happened before.

Gorse Hill has seen crime increasing in recent months, including three robberies at banks on Cricklade Road.

"It seems to have been getting worse lately," said the Wollens owner. It has gone down in the last three months."

Other retailers in Cricklade Road have also voiced concern about the rising level of crime.

Mukesh Patel, the manager of K Bora newsagents said: "It is very bad because HSBC in January was robbed twice then Lloyds TSB and now Wollens.

"The area is going downhill and it reflects on the whole of Gorse Hill."

Police are appealing for anyone with any information about the off licence burglary to contact PC Louise Pickering on 0845 408 7000 or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555111.