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Masked gang terrorise traders

PUBLISHED: 09:46 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:11 07 September 2010

TERRIFIED shopkeepers are on high alert after five more stores were targeted by a gang of vicious masked thieves. The burglars in scooter helmets armed with hammers struck in Hampstead and Belsize Park. Jessops in Hampstead high street was targeted for t

TERRIFIED shopkeepers are on high alert after five more stores were targeted by a gang of vicious masked thieves.

The burglars in scooter helmets armed with hammers struck in Hampstead and Belsize Park.

Jessops in Hampstead high street was targeted for the second time in two weeks on Monday while four shops were struck on Haverstock Hill during a break-in spree with four shops hit in one night last Thursday.

Worried traders are calling for private security after Euphorium bakery, the Black and Blue bar, Daniel Adams hair salon and Revital health shop were all raided.

"This is Hampstead, not Harare," said Jessops manager Mark Griffiths. "These people have no respect for other people's property. Security was increased after the last break-in and will increase again."

The owner of Optique 20/20 on Haverstock Hill who was a smash-and-grab victim on June 10 said: "We need private security..

"If they can rip my shutter apart and break through an armour plated door then I don't know what I can do."

So far police have been unable to catch the suspected scooter gang, and are now warning people to be on guard.

PC Robin Paton from the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods Team said: "We will be visiting the other electrical and camera shops in the area to let them know this has happened and to warn them they could be targeted next."

"I've lived in Hampstead 21 years and this is a new thing for us," said Amjad Butragueno, owner of Icon optician on South End Road and a member of the Hampstead Safer Neighbourhoods panel.

Speaking of the need for increased security, he said: "I'd rather be safe than going out of pocket for thousands of pounds.


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