Ramraiders lay waste to designer boutique

RAMRAIDERS have targeted a boutique on St John s Wood High Street for the second time in six months – causing more than £13,000 worth of damage

Susanna Wilkey

RAMRAIDERS have targeted a boutique on St John's Wood High Street for the second time in six months - causing more than £13,000 worth of damage.

Designer handbag shop Larizia was broken into on Monday night by thieves who rammed a car into the front of the shop several times, breaking the glass, both grills and damaging the concrete blocks designed to stop ramraiders.

Shopkeepers in St John's Wood said it is becoming harder to stay in business because burglary and theft is increasingly frequent.

Manager Danielle Jones said: "We reinforced the shop after the last time, because we lost a whole season's worth of stuff, which was terrible.

"We also built concrete so they couldn't ram cars into the shop - we totally reinforced the shop and put in a lot more security.

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"And we have stickers on the windows of the shop saying that there is nothing there in the night and the shop has been emptied.

"We think they rammed it about three or four times and you can see the tyre tracks on the road.

"They did not manage to steal anything because we take all the stock away at night now.

"But they still did a massive amount of damage to the shop. We now have to close for a few days and this whole thing makes me very angry.

"Because we are boarded up people will not come in and shop. It is off-putting. We think it is going to cost between £11,000 and £13,000 to fix.

"We are insured but they have had enough of us now, it has happened so many times. At the shoe shop it has happened four times, the bag shop now twice and our shop in Temple Fortune has been robbed five times.

"It is getting harder and harder to stay in business. I am really angry that it happened - especially because we empty the premises every night - it was pointless but they did it anyway.

"It is very badly affecting business here. We have been openfor 20 years and it has just been getting worse and worse. I am very sad and disappointed - it has been a nightmare."

And Kelly Thompson, fromchildren's clothes shop Tiddlywinks, said: "It is terrible - our other shop was broken into two weeks ago as well.

"It makes it very hard to do business when stuff like this happens and it is much harder for shopkeepers.

"All the expense of extra security which Larizia had installed did not stop them - they still managed to get in there. It is a nightmare."

Manager of the Venise boutique, Ellie Nosratzadeh, said: "Thieves are a normal thing around here. It happens all the time in St John's Wood.

"It has happened about three or four times - just yesterday thieves came in and stole three bags off the shelves.

"I think it is becoming more and more common in St John's Wood nowadays, even with the extra security - it is awful."

Larizia was targeted in October last year by ramraiders who made off with thousands of pounds worth of handbags and shoes.

It was one of a spate of similar attacks on boutiques across Westminster - including a raid on cashmere store Brora in Marylebone High Street.

Westminster CID is investigating this latest raid but no arrests have been made.