St John's Wood shop owner says crime is worst ever as she's hit by several burglaries in 18 months
PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:56 13 June 2019
A St John's Wood High Street stalwart said she's contemplating giving up her luxury children's clothes shop because of repeated ramraid burglaries.
Maureen Butterworth who has run Tiddlywinks @ Bens for 30 years has had "seven to eight" burglaries in the last 18 months. The latest one took place in the early hours of May 19,
Footage captured on CCTV shows two people smashing down the wooden inner-front door of the shop, before taking clothes and bundling them under the half-open shutters for people on the other side.
Days earlier, vandals had repeatedly ramraided the shop front with a car before trying to break the padlocks fixing them to the ground when closed. While Maureen had managed to get new shutters installed in the days in between the two incidents, on the second occasion the burglars got lucky.
She said she has also had problems with shoplifters in the past. Among the high-end labels she stocks are Gucci, Armani, and Sally Miller.
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Ms Butterworth said: "There's nobody else out there like us. The only thing that's similar is Harrods, and we haven't got that sort of money.
"It's never been as bad as this lawlessness. This is a family business, I've been doing this for 50 years and it's my life. It would be very easy to give it up and walk away, but my daughters work here and it's their livelihoods. I don't know what else I can do. I can't afford a security guard."
She also said she doesn't believe they police offer enough deterrence and the council can't afford to put any measures, such as bollards, in place.
"They don't have enough teeth," said the 76-year-old. "Even if they do arrest the people who do it, they'll just to go prison with their mates. It's a holiday camp with no responsibilities. I'd bring back conscription for kids who leave school and don't have a job or apprenticeship."
A Met Police spokesperson confirmed that no arrests have been made over the break-in a fortnight ago, but their investigation continues.
A spokesperson for the City of Westminster Council said: "Robberies are an extremely upsetting and disruptive experience, so we'd urge any business owners who have been a victim of crime or concerned about security to seek advice from the police on how best to protect their premises."