“Private security is the only way to stay safe in Belsize”

� A frustrated crime victim says private security may now be the only way to stop thieves targeting Belsize Park.

After having had his sat nav stolen for the third time, Fernando Saldanha, of Belsize Crescent, said he is considering paying out for guards to keep the area safe.

Mr Saldanha, 38, said he has reached the end of his tether with the number of blatant thefts being committed in the area.

He said: “I’ve moved to the area because I thought it was safe and my wife could walk home at night. But now even I feel uneasy when I come home in the evening.

“When we were in St John’s Wood last night it was just nice to see these guys walking around with visible jackets keeping the place safe. Maybe if we all paid a small amount we could pay for private security. I don’t know if that’s the answer, but we have to do something.”

Mr Saldanha says since he bought a house in Belsize Park just over a year and a half ago, crime has shot up.

He said the incidents have ranged from burglaries and shopping bags being snatched to stolen bikes and thefts from cars. “It’s gone from zero to 100 in a short space of time,” he added.

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Police statistics show that crime during April in Belsize Park was up slightly on last year’s figures.

And in the last three months there have been eight burglaries and 10 thefts involving motor vehicles.

Roger Montgomery, chairman of Belsize Crescent neighbourhood watch, said he has also become concerned about continuing reports of sat nav thefts.

“The sat navs just have to go indoors every night,” he advised. “They just cannot be left in vehicles, not until the price comes down to �5 or �10 pounds new and less than a pound for used.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Figures do vary slightly from year to year. Police need residents to report crime and we would encourage people to come forward. There has been no change in the number of officers on the streets. We would encourage residents to come to a meeting and raise the issue so we can make it a priority.”