Rural shop raids raise fears Suffolk is seen as a ‘soft touch’
PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 March 2018
A disturbing spree of rural shop raids has prompted fears that Suffolk’s stretched police force presents a “soft” target for crime.
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.
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.
“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.
“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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