The next one was really frightening and nearly ruined us. It involved what was called the ‘Benham Back Door.’ I’m convinced if we hadn’t caught the main operator that ‘Benham‘ would not have made the 90’s. As it is, they are now our rivals and are situated less than 20 yards away from us in the same Folkestone Business Park!
There were so many fiddles going on that Nero would have been proud! We lost at least £500,000 over a number of years, one person went to jail but the police totally muffed it, I remember the DC kept saying he was a professional and I did not know what I was doing, that is until the court case, then he turned into a headless chicken. Ironically I ended up with a libel case. Turned out my friend at York was right about the UK and our fixation on libel!
It had a big effect on my family life, my Mother died just after we had stopped the theft, but I always think I could have done more for her.
On top of the big ones, we were regularly plucked at shows, my favourite story was when in the ‘Royale Stamp Shop,’ one of my best customers walked in. Immediately all of the staff appeared and watched him closely, very closely.
I realised of course they thought him a thief and of course good customers get privileges which makes it easy to steal. We found out later the man had used various names.
The next show at the Cafe Royal, all of us watched him like a hawk, but he stole there! Picking up rare covers and passing them on before security picked him up.
On him he had thousands in various currencies and a number of 1948 Silver Wedding FDC in his car, these were not stolen from us, so I tried to trace the owner for the police but with no luck. It was only later I realised they were all forgeries and the £1 had been added, I was looking at them in completely the wrong way.
By Tony Buckingham