15 arrests over violent Hampstead burglaries as neighbours consider hiring private security
PUBLISHED: 18:02 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:21 23 July 2019
A spate of violent burglaries by balaclava-clad gangs in and around Hampstead could see neighbours employ private security to patrol the streets.
Since May, homes in Hampstead Hill Gardens, Lyndhurst Terrace and Winnington Road have all been burgled by armed raiders.
Other addresses in Belsize, Highgate and Swiss Cottage have also been hit, it is believed.
Footage has been shared on social media of one burglary in north Westminster. The video shows six men climbing out of a car parked in the road and jogging up the drive of a house. One of them is carrying a weapon as he moves towards the house.
In another incident, a group of four men broke down two doors and chased a homeowner out into the garden next to his ground floor flat.
The Met told the Ham&High it had allocated "additional resources" to tackle the robberies and burglaries. It said it has arrested 15 people, though could not say how many if any had been charged, as well as seizing "numerous weapons" and five "high powered" stolen cars.
Todd Berman, who is the chair of the Hampstead Hill Gardens residents association, said he was "unnerved" by the nature of the crimes, as well as the recent spate.
"These are good people who are excellent neighbours and friends," he said of the victims. "Nobody deserves that.
"It is unacceptable on any road in Hampstead, Camden or London. There is something happening in north London that needs to be fixed."
He said neighbours had now set up a WhatsApp group to share information and added they were looking at other "security options" which may include hiring private security for the street.
"I've got mixed views on it," he said. "We all pay our taxes, and feeling safe is part of being in a civilised society. I'm a massive supporter of the Met, but others are looking at it and it's something we might do."
The issue was raised at the Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood Panel (SNP) meeting on Thursday night.
At the meeting, officers encouraged attendees to be vigilant and take usual safety precautions.
Susan West, who chairs Hampstead Town SNP, said: "These serious crimes are worrying for everyone but terrifying for the victims.
"Everyone wants to see this recent spate of very nasty burglaries stopped before there are any more victims."
But she added: "It's great news to hear about the recent arrests and the progress the police have made. Their hard work and achievements are not always recognised."