Preston florist, 71, hunts down iPad thief with 'find my phone' tracker app - only to be threatened by a man brandishing a knife

A 71-year-old florist used a smartphone app to track down an thief who trashed her shop and stole hundreds of pounds worth of goods.

Saturday, 23rd November 2019, 6:00 am

Joan Marsden arrived at her flower shop, The Secret Garden, in Adelphi Street yesterday (November 21) to find it wrecked by burglars overnight.

The intruders had smashed down a steel door before ransacking the shop and stealing cash from the till, an iPad, luxury candles and other products.

The business owner, who opened the florist in 1987, said she was "sickened" by the sight of her shop which had been "completely turned upside down".

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Joan Marsden (right) and daughter Melissa (left) managed to track down a man who is alleged to have stolen their iPad by using the 'find my iPad' app

Joan reported the burglary to the police, but after waiting for several hours for them to visit, she decided to do a bit of her own detective work.

"They had stolen my iPad and my daughter told me that you can track it by using an app on your phone", said Joan.

"So we visited the Apple store and they loaded up the app on my phone and we traced it to a nearby block of flats.

"We were so angry by what had happened, we decided to just go over there and demand it back.

Joan Marsden and her daughter Melissa speak with police after they were threatened by a man with a knife after trying to recover their stolen iPad from flats in Adelphi Street, Preston on Friday, November 22

"The app led us straight to the door of one of the flats.

"At this point I was so angry, I was just seeing a red mist, so I shouted out in the corridor, "where's my iPad!?"

Joan said she heard movement inside the flat before the door swung open and a man appeared brandishing a knife.

"He stood there threatening me and my daughters with this knife, I couldn't believe it", said Joan.

Joan (right) and her daughter Melissa (left) outside their ransacked flower shop in Adelphi Street, Preston

Police soon arrived at the flats in Adelphi Street and the man was arrested.

He remains in custody.

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"I was just so angry and upset about what they have done to my shop", said Joan.

Joan Marsden, 71, has owned The Secret Garden Flower Shop in Adelphi Street, Preston since 1987

"I've been here for 32 years and I love the area and we have so many lovely customers.

"It just really got to me, and the police didn't seem that interested when I reported it, which made me think, "well, I'm just going to have to do something myself".

"But I must say, the police were brilliant once I reported the man with the knife. They got here as quick as they could and they took him away in handcuffs.

"We've found a few of our items in the flat, but not everything. The shop is in that much of a mess that we don't know exactly what's been stolen. There's stuff everywhere. It's heartbreaking."

Joan said she will be spending the weekend cleaning up the shop and repairing the damage before reopening next week.

"We don't have any time to waste, because all our stock is fresh", she said.

"We have to try and sell the flowers as soon as possible, otherwise we will lose hundreds of pounds of fresh stock.

"It's going to be stressful to try and open again in time for Monday, but it has to be done. What other choice do I have? This is my livelihood."

Lancashire Police said a man remains in custody following arrest.