IT WAS the annual sale but one person could not wait - he simply broke in the night before and helped himself to a coat!

And the shop was just yards from a busy police station in the heart of Southampton.

The break-in at Baines and Owens, outfitters in the High Street, was discovered shortly before 9am when a member of staff went to unlock the front door, only to discover it opened under slight pressure.

One of the two locks had been unscrewed and removed, and the other unlocked from inside, indicating the thief had brazenly left the same way.

Once inside, the salesman discovered the premises in disorder with coats and other stock as well as accounts waiting to be posted strewn across the floor.

The intruder had tried on several coats - one of which had been removed from a tailor's dummy - before making a careful selection of what he wanted.

Detectives called to the the shop from the adjacent Bargate police station on February 4, 1931, found the thief had climbed through the fanlight above the street door.

A spokesman told the Echo: "He must have been of slim build and very agile. He had climbed up to the fanlight by using a door handle as a foothold, forced the fanlight inwards and then crawled through the opening."

The break-in had obviously been calculated as the thief had tied up the fanlight with a piece of string to allay suspicion.

However his attempt to empty the safe had failed - hardly surprising as he tried to do so with a pair of discarded shears!

The only money taken amounted to just eight shillings left in a small tin at the back of the till and destined to pay for the staff's national health and insurance contributions.