WELLINGTON'S police sergeant has said officers were "off duty" when thieves struck at a town centre business twice in two days.

It came after officers waited days to attend the Ruxton's farm shop after business owner brothers Gabriel and Frasier Purdy reported the incidents.

The business was targeted on successive days, with the thieves alleged to have made off with as much as £200 worth of stolen goods from the store.

In a written report to Wellington Town Council, Sgt Jon O'Connor admitted neighbourhood policing officers were not on duty at the time - despite the incidents taking place in broad daylight. He told councillors that it was 'unfortunate' that his team were not working over the period. He said:

"Unfortunately, these [thefts] occurred when our team was off duty but it has been picked up by our desktop investigators who are progressing both incidents by securing the CCTV evidence and have already identified potential suspects."

It came after Sgt O'Connor told councillors that the team's "excellent community policing" is often overshadowed, and that he had invited the police's social media department to spend a day filming in Wellington to highlight their work.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said that the neighbourhood policing team work a "varied shift pattern" and that they provide an "additional" level of policing beyond what they said was 24/7 coverage by various units including firearms officers and dog units.

They added the report was filed with police after the offences had been committed - which was disputed - and that officers would consider their response to incidents on the basis of harm threat and risk.