Why some Cross Street retailers are keeping their doors permanently locked

Elaine Bernstein outside her boutique in Cross Street, Islington

Elaine Bernstein outside her boutique in Cross Street, Islington - Credit: Elaine Bernstein

An Islington dress designer whose Cross Street boutique has been raided twice in the past two months has revealed how other retailers in the fashionable road are keeping their doors permanently locked, because so many of them have suffered the same fate. 

On Wednesday (August 18) a man came into Elaine Bernstein's shop in the quaint street which links Upper Street with Essex Road, "shoved her out of the way", and proceeded to make off with three dresses worth £785.

Although a witness took photos of the alleged culprit making off on a bike, police decided not to issue an appeal to try to track the man down because his face was not clearly visible, and closed the case within two hours. 

Elaine's insurance doesn't cover shop theft, so she will not be able to make a claim.

Prior to the robbery, a burglar smashed in the boutique's front window panes in the middle of the night in May, and took two pieces of knitwear. 


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And two weeks ago she was in the back room, and heard a noise, and realised someone had even come in to pinch a giant bottle of sanitiser. 

In the aftermath of Wednesday's incident, as she was waiting for police to arrive, an angry Elaine told the Gazette: "It's such a cheek to walk in and grab three dresses and walk out with them.

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"The police told me it's a robbery if there’s a nature of intent when entering the building, and there absolutely was.

"What a hoodster. Who does he think he is? How dare he think he has a right to take what isn't his. How dare he when I work so hard?"

She continued: "At least four shops in Cross Street have door bells installed and keep their doors locked until customers request to enter. 

"Retail is hard enough at the moment without having to make people wait to be allowed entrance."

Elaine, whose dresses are based on a 1940s design, and are all carefully cut and intricately sewn in a family run factory in north London, added: "I'm passionate about what I do.

"I have designed a great dress that gives women a flattering shape and it's fulfilling for me when a woman comes in and gets a great dress and loves it.

"But running a business to make a dress involves a lot of work. I have to pay rent for the shop, and then there's the work that goes into making a dress, not just by me but the women at the factory - and he thinks he can take it."

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