‘They can’t be stopped’: Businesses fear for the future amid burglary epidemic

The Ramco pharmacy on West End Lane was broken into. Picture: Sam Volpe

The Ramco pharmacy on West End Lane was broken into. Picture: Sam Volpe - Credit: Archant

Businesses in Fortune Green and West Hampstead have been terrorised by 22 burglaries or attempted burglaries since the end of May.

There have been at least five break-ins in the last 10 days.

Since July 2, thieves have targeted Hampstead Dry-Cleaners, Bijou gift shop and the Green Room bar, in Fortune Green Road.

Meanwhile in West End Lane, Ramco Pharmacy and Dexter’s Estate Agents were also hit by the late-night predators.

The three Fortune Green Road shops sit just metres from the local police station, but that didn’t deter the thieves.

Hemen Osman runs the Hampstead Dry-Cleaners where thieves broke in by throwing a small rock through the glass door.

Hemen told the Ham&High: “It’s the second time it’s happened, and the second time they’ve taken cash. This time it was £3,000.”

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John Terry runs Bijou. He said: “I was away and came back to see they’d made off with a safe. It had odds and ends in – I don’t keep any cash on site.”

Sheri Fard manages Prestige Beauty, which sits next door to Bijou. She told this newspaper: “They’re working their way along the street.

“It looks like they can’t be stopped, so they’ll just do it over and over.”

John added: “We’ve got the police just across the road, but what can they do? They can’t patrol 24/7.”

Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea added: “The thieves clearly know they won’t get caught.

“If you concentrate policing on Camden Town then the outer fringes of the borough are going to sink or swim – and in Fortune Green we’re sinking.”

Police enquiries are ongoing but no arrests have been made.

West Hampstead police Sgt Mark Townsend urged businesses to review their security annually, and to install HD CCTV and shutters.

He added: “We urge the community to call 999 if you see or hear anything suspicious especially at night. Please help us catch these people.

“Police patrols have been increased to try and catch the culprits directly, with my local Safer Neighbourhood Teams working with CID to resolve this issue with direct action.”