Published: 26 January, 2017
By WILLIAM McLENNAN
POLICE and Camden Council have been told they must urgently get to grips with a wave of break-ins in Belsize Park before criminals begin to view the area as an “easy target”.
Independent traders have been repeatedly targeted in a spate of smash-and-grab raids in Belsize Village since the end of last year. Business owners and residents met local officers yesterday (Wednesday) to demand that police increase night-time patrols and that the council install CCTV.
There have been 24 break-ins at commercial properties in NW3 since mid-December, including four in England’s Lane on Boxing Day. The most recent incident came on Sunday this week, with an attempted break-in at Indian restaurant Hazara in Belsize Lane.
PC Edward Bromilow told the 30-strong meeting: “We do occasionally get business burglaries, but in my time in this position I’ve never seen anything like this, where you have so many burglaries in such a small area in such a small space of time.”
Asked if the crimes had been carried out by one gang, he said: “We don’t know... there’s every possibility there are other people out there committing these burglaries and who may continue to commit them.”
He said that police emergency response vehicles had been asked to patrol the area at night.
The meeting was told that crime hotspots in the south of the borough, such as Camden Town and Holborn, required greater resources from both police and the council.
Angela King, who runs estate agents Heywoods, said: “If, because there is not so much crime, we get marginalised, aren’t these people going to think ‘oh, these areas are easy targets’, which is what’s happening now, and then the crime starts funnelling northwards.
“At the moment they can get away with it. We need to look at how can we have some sort of deterrent, whether that means a camera, or is there certain signage we can put up in the shops to show we are onto this and there is surveillance.”
She added: “I think we need to make a concerted effort now to show we are on it.”
PC Bromilow said that CCTV was not a “silver bullet” in terms of crime prevention, but said other steps, such as not leaving cash overnight can help. He said: “We can never guarantee that you will be crime-proof, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk.”
l A man has been arrested in relation to a break-in at Sylvester Fine Arts, which had a painting worth £20,000 stolen during a break-in at around 3.15am on December 21.
No arrests have been made in relation to a smash-and-grab at the Late Late Store, in which thieves broke through shutters before making off on mopeds with £4,500 in cash and cigarettes worth around £4,000.