'I don't feel safe in my home' says Hampstead victim of violent aggravated burglary
PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 July 2019
A man targeted during a spate of violent burglaries across north west London has told of his terror after four balaclava-clad men broke into his Hampstead home in the middle of the night.
On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police told the Ham&High it had arrested 15 people and deployed additional resources to tackle the robberies and burglaries. It could not say whether anyone has been charged.
Since May homes in Hampstead Hill Gardens, Lyndhurst Terrace and Winnington Road have all been targeted by armed raiders. Other addresses in Hampstead, Belsize, Highgate and St John's Wood have also been hit, it is believed.
One victim he said he felt "lucky" after four men broke into his home in May.
He was asleep at 1.30am when four men, wearing balaclavas and dressed head to toe in black, broke down his front door.
They tried to grab him by the neck but he escaped, pressed the panic button in his home, and ran into his garden.
"It's a traumatic thing to happen," he said. "I was very frightened. Fortunately my children weren't at home at the time, or else it could have been worse."
He believes the gang was looking for a safe.
"I'm really lucky I wasn't hurt," he said. "Everyone's fear is that they will get mugged or robbed. You're probably insured and could start again. Being attacked like this is far worse, and it gives you a different perspective."
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The victim said the possibility of leaving Hampstead has "crossed my mind" and the random nature of the attack made him more worried.
"I have no idea why they targeted me," he told the Ham&High. "I don't feel safe in my own home at all. When I heard about it happening nearby, I thought it couldn't happen to me. Then it did," he said.
Todd Berman, chair of the Hampstead Hill Gardens Residents' Association, said he was "unnerved" by the nature of the crimes and neighbours were now looking at potentially 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."
Footage has also circulated on social media of one raid in north Westminster. The images, taken from a victim's CCTV camera, 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.
Contacted by the Ham&High, the Met said along with the arrests it had seized five "high-powered" stolen cars and numerous weapons.
The issue was raised at the Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood Panel (SNP) meeting a week ago (Thu).
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."