The POLICE has been branded as "stupid" after launching the CCTV of an old man who was attacked by a convicted pickpocket, with the face of the delinquent fuzzy.
The Surrey police said they protected the identity of the criminal who took advantage of the retiree because "it is not a risk to the public" and that made the video "more powerful".
The force yesterday published the video of Luilian Vinatoru stealing the wallet of an OAP in a store in West Byfleet, Surrey.
The 48-year-old from Leicester was fined £ 280 plus £ 125 in costs and compensation after the incident on December 7 last year.
But the Surrey police face criticism after posting a video of the crime on their social media page as a warning to the public, but with the face of Vinarotu blurred.
The bewildered spectators included Ricky Stedman, who asked: "Why the fuck you hide your face! Stupid, is not it?
DK Towner, demanded: "Question … Why unfocus the face of the aggressor?"
Steve Hair added: "He should show his face."
Martin Abel agreed: "I agree with you Steve! Let everyone see so he can be named and ashamed!
Linda Goodey wrote: "You should show your face … what right does he have not to be recognized?"
Neil Farnham-Smith said: "Why unfocus the face. Shame that individual could make them think twice before committing a crime in the future. "
Jennifer Riordan added: "Show them and embarrass them! Put their faces on posters in the area. "
Karl Wilson wrote: "Name and shame and a photo".
Candance Sam said: "Why is your face blurred? You clearly have no shame in doing what you are doing!"
Others were outraged that the pickpocket got away with a fine.
Helen Ireland said: "A fine will not dissuade you from doing it again if it's worth it, the gain should be more than mere misery."
Ancy L Fenton added: "A fine? That's not enough to stop this person!
Susie Plowright wrote: "What a ridiculous fine he had to pay. He probably stole more than that amount of trusting victims in the last week. "
A spokeswoman for the force insisted today that the decision to blur the face of the criminal was compatible with the "normal guidelines of the media."
She added: "Due to the type of crime committed, it is considered that it is not a risk to the public and showing his face is not in the public interest."
The spokeswoman said: "We believe that the video is more powerful without showing its face, since it shows the public how easy it is that this type of crime occurs."
The incident, which occurred outside Waitrose in the city, caused Vinatoru to be detained by a security guard.
The video shows an old man dressed in a blue jacket pushing a cart that leaves the store.
You can see Vinatoru in a dark suit and holding a transport bag while standing in a corner. He looks at the old man who leaves the store and begins to approach him.
The old man stops when Vinatoru appears just behind him and puts his left hand in the old man's left pocket.
The old man appears to watch his purchases just as Vinatoru takes his hand out of his pocket and clings to what appears to be a brown wallet.
Both men leave normally, with the old man seemingly oblivious to the robbery.
The video plays and approaches the moment the wallet is stolen from the old man's pocket. However, the police have erased Vinatoru's face.
The Surrey police added today that its policy was not to identify people on CCTV unless they had received a prison sentence of more than one year or if there was a significant threat to public safety.
The Surrey police responded to the criticism in a comment in the same post, writing: "The court ordered the man to pay a fine, and we have released the video to the public to highlight how quickly they can take their personal belongings, and Provide safety advice on how to protect yourself and your belongings.
"This issue has been addressed by the court, and our current policy is that custody images will be disclosed if a person has received a prison sentence of more than one year or if there is a significant threat to public safety."