Raiders hit Islington Budgens store twice in 28 hours
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:26 15 December 2016
Terrified staff are refusing to work evening shifts at an Islington supermarket blighted by smash and grab raids.
Budgens, in Packington Square, was robbed at its 11pm closing time on Sunday evening after a hooded man armed with a knife ambushed two staff leaving at the back door.
The store lost £1,000 as he stole three tills, a change box and bottles of alcohol.
And just 28 hours later, early on Tuesday morning, another gang unsuccessfully tried to smash their way through the front door.
Owner Prateek Shukla said: “It’s been a nightmare. We are getting one incident a week: raids, threatening behaviour to staff and shoplifting.
“Staff have left because they don’t feel secure. Some are refusing to work evening shifts because that is when the shop is most vulnerable.
“Our insurance has almost trebled because of these incidents. Our excess on theft is £5,000.We lost £1,000 on Sunday, so we don’t get to claim that back. It’s all adding up to the cost of doing business, and we can’t afford it.”
As previously reported in the Gazette, the shop suffered three raids after opening in 2014, as well as one 12 months ago.
Mr Shukla said: “We believe all these guys are local. They know their way around the streets. Police interupted another attempted raid last month and they instantly scattered off in different directions. They knew where they were going and they are targeting our store because it’s a quiet residential area.”
On Sunday, one staff member was able to flee and call the police, while another locked himself in the bathroom.
Mr Shukla said: “[The raider] was so brazen, it was as if he was casually shopping. These guys are getting bolder and bolder. Someone could have ended up getting really hurt.”
He also rounded on police: “We give them details and all we get is a crime reference number. There has been a lack of action against these people. Maybe we are low priority for them.”
But Ch Insp Kier Kier Newman responded: “Islington Police take every allegation of crime seriously. There are a number of shops and businesses that do unfortunately become repeat victims of crime, such as this Budgens store.
“We work hard to try to identify suspects, for example using private and public CCTV, seeking out forensic opportunities and taking statements from eye-witnesses, and at present the investigations into these incidents are ongoing.
“The incidents at Budgens being less than two days apart is obviously particularly distressing for the owners.
“We have met the manager and staff at Budgens, and have increased patrols in the area. We will continue to work with Budgens to support them.”
He added: “The crimes are not believed to be linked as the suspects, time of offence and method used are very different.”
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