Terrified traders lash out at police
TERRIFIED traders in Hampstead are pleading for action from police over the increasing number of ramraids and hold-ups threatening their livelihoods. Police have admitted shop raids around Hampstead and West Hampstead are getting worse but say they are us
TERRIFIED traders in Hampstead are pleading for action from police over the increasing number of ramraids and hold-ups threatening their livelihoods.
Police have admitted shop raids around Hampstead and West Hampstead are getting worse but say they are using "tactical policing" in response, while traders are battening down the hatches and tightening private security.
The latest target was designer boutique Larizia in Temple Fortune, where staff were held at knife-point in broad daylight last week.
Three men in balaclavas burst in, made threats with the knife then made off with handbags worth thousands of pounds.
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"They came in and grabbed some bags in seven seconds. We saw a knife and were very scared," said manager of the Finchley Road store, Marian Zandi.
Co-manager Danielle Jones added: "It's happened to us so many times. If it carries on like this there will be no business."
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Other shop owners echo the feelings of the troubled boutique and to combat the problem they want more police patrols and CCTV.
Hammer-wielding thugs attacked Joule jewellers in West Hampstead in April and smashed up the glass cabinets frightening staff and customers.
Manager Sanjay Pattni said: "It is going to happen again. In this economic climate people are going to get more and more aggressive and they are going to go for the softer targets and easy getaways.
"After it happened to us, a member of staff who had been with us for two and a half years left the next day because she was so scared. I think it is going to get worse before it gets better and I do not think the police are in control of it - they have to do more."
Nicolas Dasgupta, from opticians Arthur Morrice on Rosslyn Hill, which was also raided, agrees.
"We are really worried about this, traders all over Hampstead are," he said. "The police do not seem to do much about it and the problem is getting worse - it is already much worse than last year.
"The criminals are getting braver because no-one is catching them. You never see a police officer when you need one. The streets also need CCTV. What's happening with knives is terrible. Police should be doing more."
Hampstead optician David Clulow has also lost designer glasses worth thousands of pounds and fears another attack like the one in Temple Fortune.
"We are very worried it might happen again with knives being used because we have heard so many stories about it," said assistant manager Dagmara Demus.
"We have had two more robberies in the last few months and they stole around £2,000 of sunglasses each time. I do think the police could do more because this has been going on for such a long time."
A police source admitted that problems arise because of difficulties over communication between the various boroughs like Camden and Barnet as well as with the Flying Squad.
A Camden police spokesman said: "We monitor crime on a daily basis and target our resources accordingly. We have recently carried out additional patrols in the north of the borough with our task force, as well as through the problem-solving processes being conducted by the local Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, who are also conducting high-visibility patrols.
"We apply tactical policing in response to crime trends and are aware of the recent increase in retail crimes in Hampstead and West Hampstead. As a result, we envisage a reduction in these crimes in the coming months.