Urgent meeting held as Belsize Park hit by 24 burglaries since mid December

A CCTV still from the Taherah Indian restaurant.

A CCTV still from the Taherah Indian restaurant. - Credit: Archant

Police have revealed that ‘the worst’ burglary spree in the NW3 area has seen 24 business and domestic raids since mid-December.

Belsize village

Belsize village - Credit: Archant

Around 30 local business owners and residents gathered at the back of the Belsize Kitchen yesterday afternoon to make a desperate plea for more support in combating the break-ins which have cost traders at least £30,000 so far.

As previously reported in the Ham&High, a string of commercial raids over the festive period saw businesses including Crescent Fruiterers, the Late Late Store supermarket and the Taherah Indian restaurant burgled.

Similarly, businesses in nearby Englands Lane were rocked by four burglaries and one attempted break-in in less than two hours in the early hours of December 27.

Frognal & Ftzjohns dedicated ward officer, PC Edward Bromilow, confirmed the 24 business and domestic burglaries over the past six weeks represented among the worst he has seen.

“We do occasionally get business burglaries, but in my time in this position I have never seen anything like this,” he told those attending.

Typical commercial raids have involved criminals using tools to compromise wooden door and window frames before removing the pane of glass and rifling for cash inside, traders have pleaded for better police and council protection.

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One issue raised was the possibility of installing CCTV in the Village to monitor the fronts of shops.

However, due to the high demand from members of the wider community to install it, Camden Council takes four assessment criteria into consideration including identifying available resources.

Linda Grove said: “You may think this is just a little area but these are people’s livelihoods so something needs to be done.

“If there is no way you can help - put some suggestions to us.”

Traders asked Camden Community Safety team member Julian Coutts to clarify rules regarding the use of their own surveillance as a deterrent and probed ward officers on what more the police could do to help them.

Heywoods Estate Agents sales director, Angela King, said: “Why would they come here? Because it is easy pickings and they can get away. At the moment they can get away with it, so we need to look at whether there is any deterrent - whether cameras, help from the police or signage to show that we are on to this and people are aware they are under surveillance.”

Head of Belsize Neighbourhood Watch, Roger Montgomery, added: “I have been living and working here for the last 15 years and I have never heard about anything like what is happening at the moment.

“There is definitely something in the air.”

PC Bromilow assured the gathering he would make efforts to maximise the police prescence in the area which could be boosted by surveillance images being circulated to other borough officers who can pass through on patrol.

Businesses will also be visited and given crime prevention advice along with better guidance in relation to implementing their own CCTV.