New bid to stop business thefts in Southwold

PUBLISHED: 15:29 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:29 28 January 2014

PC Chris Sadler and Sgt Simon Price talk to Symmon Whiting from Daddy Longlegs shoe shop about business crime.

PC Chris Sadler and Sgt Simon Price talk to Symmon Whiting from Daddy Longlegs shoe shop about business crime.

Action is being taken to improve security at businesses in the Southwold area after a recent spate of high-value thefts.

Between April 1 and December 31 last year, there were 10 shop burglaries in Southwold and Reydon at businesses including Collen and Clare, Daddylonglegs and Southwold Antiques and an attempted break-in at the Amber Shop.

The local safer neighbourhood policing team has now pledged to tackle the problem by launching a new campaign entitled Suffolk Constabulary – Checked Out. It will see officers working with local business owners and employing a 10-point plan to improve security and deter thefts.

The scheme was agreed at the Southwold and Halesworth Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) meeting at the beginning of January and is expected to run during February and March.

The campaign comes ahead of tonight’s Southwold Town Council meeting, where councillors will discuss proposals for a CCTV camera at the entrance to the town.

If approved, it would be installed near to the Stella Peskett Millennium Hall in Mights Road in an effort to deter criminals from travelling to Southwold to commit crimes.

PC Chris Sadler, of the Halesworth and Southwold SNT, said: “The crime rate hasn’t changed a great deal but there were some fairly dramatic burglaries in Southwold which concentrated our mind on the issue of commercial burglaries.

“There are some very nice shops in Southwold and when they are targeted, it is interesting to people. From a police point of view, it is more about keeping up the emphasis on crime prevention.”

PC Sadler said officers would be visiting businesses in the town and going through the 10-point plan to improve security and the way crime was reported.

This is likely to include advice about increasing staffing in shops so employees are not left on their own and teaching workers how to identify suspects and remember accurately what they looked like.

PC Sadler said shops would also be asked to consider installing their own CCTV systems, and window stickers would be given to those which completed the 10-point plan to deter would-be thieves.

Figures released by Suffolk police show that crime did not rise significantly during 2013 compared to previous years. From April 1 to December 31 2012, there were nine businesses burgled compared to 11 in 2011.

The most high-profile crimes in Southwold occurred towards the end of 2013 and included:

■Daddylonglegs shoe shop in High Street was broken into overnight between September 24 and 25 and between 100 and 150 pairs of shoes were stolen from the rear of the premises;

■Jewellery was stolen in a break-in at Southwold Antiques Centre in High Street on November 5 and two people have since been arrested in connection with the burglary;

■ Several Mulberry handbags were stolen when a window was smashed at Collen & Clare in Market Place in the early hours of Sunday, December 29. The five bags were all black and brown in colour and were worth several hundred pounds.

Despite the police figures, business owners said they had felt more at risk from crime over the last few years and welcomed the action to deter burglars.

Daddylonglegs’ manager, Symmon Whiting, said she thought the police initiative was a good idea.

“We are coming up on 16 years in Southwold and have never had a burglary before. It has made me more security conscious,” he said. “We did get some security advice from the police but only because we chased it up. They were not very forthcoming.

“It certainly scares you and makes you think twice about what you are telling you people about when new stock is coming in.”

Lynn Jenvey, owner of Jenvey womenswear in High Street for 15 years, said: “The burglaries are a concern.

“We are out on a limb here and it is something which is quite new to us.

“At one time we used to have regular updates from the police with photos of people who have been a pest and we don’t get that anymore. I’d like that to come back because it was most useful.”

She said she felt burglaries at businesses in Southwold had got worse over the last two years.

She said: “Certainly recently there has been a spike. I am surprised that there hasn’t been an overall increase in crime. They have certainly targeted the high street shops.

“I can’t think of a time before when anybody has ever had a go like that.”

A spokesman for Gun Hill clothing, in High Street, added: “We have been concerned. Southwold was always quiet but recently there have been a couple of break-ins, especially in the last two years.

“Any help we get will definitely be a good thing.”

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