A "SWITCHED ON" service station employee that asked a customer to remove their cap has lead to a breakthrough in a Tamworth break-in and fraud investigation, after officers claim they were able to link him to the crime.
The male suspect - who is wanted by police - is on the run and police claim he's one of several being harboured or hidden by associates in West Tamworth.
After another weekend marred by property crime and break-ins in Tamworth, police said the Caltex service station on Marius Street in Tamworth had heeded police warnings to businesses last week to ask customers to remove headwear, or face coverings, so they could be identified by staff, and subsequently CCTV.
Now, that ID has been "crucial" and has been linked to a Tamworth break-in last week.
"The Caltex service station on Marius Street asked this male to remove the cap he was wearing at the time, and CCTV has captured that male using a stolen bank card to make fraudulent purchases," Oxley Detective Inspection Jason Darcy told the Leader.
"That male was depicted in CCTV at other service stations that night who didn't adopt the policy that we have asked - for all customers to remove helmets, headwear and hats - so they can be identified. Those transactions were using a stolen card which was stolen from a break-and-enter offence that night."
Detective Darcy said "there is no need for anyone to be served without showing their face."
"I cannot stress the importance of this one procedure and how it can assist investigators to identify those people behind this property offending, and we continue to appeal to other service station operators and stores open at these times," he said.
"This is groups of offenders who are breaking into homes and stealing goods including wallets and items and then using stolen cards to make fraudulent transactions at service stations and stores open late at night and into the early hours of the morning.
"We have seen recently suspects using stolen cards to pay for goods, taken minutes prior during break-and-enter offences, and they have hats, hooded jumpers, and shirts pulled up to there noses to cover their faces."
Police said the male suspect is wanted for fraud and break-in offences but police believe he is being shielded from police.
Over the weekend, several break-ins were committed across Tamworth and investigations are continuing.
"There are certain people in the West Tamworth area who won't assist police, and we believe are harbouring these suspects wanted for questioning for property crime offences," Detective Darcy said.
"These people are harbouring the offenders, allowing them to continue their offending across Tamworth.
"We have deployed extra crews, we have uniformed as well as plain clothes police working around the clock with extra patrols.
"We have a team of officers knocking on doors at 3am in the morning in a bid to catch these individuals ut there are community members working against police."