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Rural shop raids raise fears Suffolk is seen as a ‘soft touch’

PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 March 2018

Police on the scene after four people broke into the shop and stole a large quantity of cigarettes. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Police on the scene after four people broke into the shop and stole a large quantity of cigarettes. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A disturbing spree of rural shop raids has prompted fears that Suffolk’s stretched police force presents a “soft” target for crime.

A police forensic van was at the shop on Tuesday morning. Picture: GREGG BROWNA police forensic van was at the shop on Tuesday morning. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Thieves have been targeting village shops across Suffolk and north Essex over recent months, breaking-in with force to steal cigarettes, alcohol and, in some cases, ripping out cash machines.

The latest raid saw thieves use sledgehammers and crowbars to smash their way into the Spar in Stradbroke, near Eye, on Monday evening, before stealing a large quantity of cigarettes.

MORE: Thieves use sledgehammers to steal large quantity of cigarettes in Stradbroke SPAR burglary

Suffolk police said its officers were on the scene in Church Street just 10 minutes after the break-in was reported at 10.15pm.

The shop was closed on Tuesday morning. Picture: GREGG BROWNThe shop was closed on Tuesday morning. Picture: GREGG BROWN

However, the increasing regularity of rural break-ins has led some to question whether Suffolk is being targeted.

Mike Cane, who lives above the Spar with his wife Pam, confronted one of the thieves and said he was shocked by how “brazen” they had been.

“The fact it happened just after 10pm on Monday evening shows total disregard for law and order,” he added. “It seems they are looking at Suffolk as though it’s a soft target.”

Mrs Cane, who called 999 during the burglary, praised police but said they needed better resources.

The Spar in Stradbroke has been subjected to a break in. Picture: GREGG BROWNThe Spar in Stradbroke has been subjected to a break in. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“It’s not the police’s fault but I do think they are under-resourced and stretched,” she added.

The couple, who ran the shop before leasing it to Spar, said the thieves had been “menacing”. “One saw me on the phone and assumed I was giving details to police so started acting in a threatening manner,” Mrs Cane added. “He threw a beer bottle and smashed our windows.”

Villagers spoke of their shock at such a blatant raid happening in an otherwise quiet community.

Brian Harper, who has lived in Stradbroke for 27 years, said the only recent problems in the village had been traffic-related.

The Spar in Stradbroke was broken into with sledgehammers. Picture: GREGG BROWNThe Spar in Stradbroke was broken into with sledgehammers. Picture: GREGG BROWN

“Otherwise, it’s a very friendly community,” he added. “What’s worrying is these people are clearly not from the village and are coming here to do it.”

Jenny Welch said the news had come as a “real shock”. “It’s such a lovely shop, the owners are very nice and the girls working there are lovely too,” she added.

Suffolk Constabulary said four people with covered faces broke in to the shop and made off in a dark coloured Audi.

Witnesses are asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 16487/18 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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