St John’s Wood designer stores targeted by smash-and-grab raiders

Gangs preying on shops steal �100,000 worth of goods

Brazen burglars have launched a crime offensive on St John’s Wood High Street – stealing up to �100,000 of goods in smash and grab raids at designer shops in less than two weeks.

Clothes and bag retailers Larizia and Zadig & Voltaire have been raided at different times of the day and night with thieves escaping with high-end, expensive goods. It is believed the items have been stolen by gangs who then will resell them to unsuspecting buyers.

The recent crimewave began on Saturday May 7 when a man entered Larizia at about 3.30pm.

Despite shoppers being present in the shop, he shouted for everyone to stay still while he grabbed 15 bags, each worth between �1,000 and �2,000.

The shop was then raided in broad daylight again three days later when burglars smashed the door down at 10am and stole 30 bags worth around �50,000.

One shop assistant said: “They smashed their way in with a hammer. Three guys were waiting with motorbikes on the pavement while three more guys came in, emptied the shop and left. It all happened so quickly in about 25 seconds. Maybe it’s all linked but we don’t know.”

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The store has now employed a security guard during opening hours.

A third incident occurred at Zadig & Voltaire last Sunday at about 2.30am when three men smashed the door and grabbed more than 200 bags and clothes worth around �20,000. It is the second time the store has been targeted this year after �20,000 of goods were stolen in March.

On Sunday May 8, four men attempted to smash their way into Safarian & Simon Opticians but failed to gain entry. No-one was injured in any of the incidents and no arrests have been made but inquiries continue.

No arrests

Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector Rosie McLean said: “In addition to investigations which are being led by Westminster Crime Squad, we have been looking at what we can do locally to tackle the problem and provide reassurance to residents and businesses in the High Street.

“We altered our shifts over the weekend to ensure local officers were patrolling the area during the day on both Saturday and Sunday.”

Elsewhere, the St John’s Wood branch of Barclays Bank in Wellington Road was cordoned off for much of last Thursday afternoon when a security van carrying cash was robbed outside just before noon.

Police surrounded the bank but no arrests were made. It is unknown how much money was stolen.