A MAN who had all his clothes and car stolen while swimming with his young son at Darwen Leisure Centre was stunned to find out police had still not collected CCTV images of the alleged thief a month after the theft.

Henry Widdas, 45, from Bonsall Street, Mill Hill, returned to his locker after swimming on January 21 to find it had been prised open leaving himself and his son, eight, dripping wet in their swimming shorts and with just one towel between them.

It is understood the locker room raider then used Mr Widdas’s stolen car keys to take his Nissan Micra and drive it away before taking £300 cash from an ATM machine.

A Great Manchester police officer, who found out about the theft after it was reported in the Lancashire Telegraph, has told Mr Widdas they had obtained CCTV footage from an Asda store in Bolton identifying the thief taking the money out.

Mr Widdas said he was told they believe he is a career criminal recently out of prison who targets leisure centre lockers, prising them open with a screwdriver.

He said: “I told all this to Lancashire Police three weeks ago as I was worried this thief would be doing this to someone else if he wasn’t apprehended quickly.

“I was shocked to learn last week that police in Lancashire have still not visited the leisure centre to collect the CCTV footage.

“Bolton officers told me all it would take is for them to match the CCTV with the Asda and the leisure centre and then he could be arrested and taken off the streets.

“Losing all my clothes, car, and mobile phone so I had no way of contacting anyone was truly sickening and I dread to think how many other victims this crook has claimed since then.

“I appreciate police are understaffed and theft is a lower priority than some crimes, but this would have been an easy arrest and conviction.

“Two officers came out to speak to me a week after the theft and one mentioned she would be off for two weeks from the next day, the other officer was going to be off for a week.

“But even taking that into account, it has been a month or more without the CCTV being collected."

Mr Widdas said he had tried to chase up the Lancashire officers handling his case several times but had been unsuccessful in getting an update on the case other than one late-night missed call, and a text at 1.30am from one of them apologising and adding she was extremely busy handling 999 call-outs.

He said: “Bolton police only knew about this case after seeing it in the paper, they phoned me up that day and then got the CCTV of the thief at Asda in a couple of hours. He got the cash out as I’d stupidly left my pin number in my wallet.

He added: “Leisure centre staff told me the CCTV had been burned onto a disk and was just waiting for police to collect.

"It’s been sitting there for a month.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “The investigation is ongoing and we have been in regular contact with the victim to explain what’s happening.

"We have the CCTV now.”