Masked thieves use crowbar to loot Hayling store sparking crimewave fears

Councillor Andy Lenaghan
Councillor Andy Lenaghan

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FEARS of a surge in crime have been raised after a store was ransacked by a gang of thieves.

Three masked raiders smashed their way into Lloyds Pharmacy, in Station Road, Hayling Island, looting the shop, stealing £5,000 worth of perfume.

Using a crowbar, the gang wrenched open the door of the shop during the early morning assault before dumping dozens of bottles of perfume into a duvet and fleeing.

It comes just months after a similar incident at the retailer, which was hit by a lone burglar who also stole perfume.

Now one of the island’s councillors has hit out, claiming cuts to the number of police patrolling the area was leaving the door open for more criminals.

Councillor Andrew Lenaghan, who represents Hayling West, said the issue had become such a concern that councillors at Havant Borough Council are looking to lobby the area’s MPs to take immediate action.

The politician said: ‘I do believe we are getting the thinner end of the wedge over on Hayling Island.

‘I think in the near future we will be down to one police constable on the island – we used to have three. Frankly, one constable serving a population of 20,000 is ridiculous.’

The theft took place on November 7. Burglars broke into the store at about 2.35am and took 10 minutes to loot it.

Cllr Lenaghan added: ‘This is an unusual burglary. I think we now have to ask questions about the allocation of police resources in this kind of climate.

‘Do people realise and are they cottoning on to the fact that the cuts are having an impact on police numbers and patrols?

‘There has been a noticeable decrease in the officers patrolling the island. My fear is people are cottoning on to this and we will see more crimes like this taking place.’

His concerns come after the man who represents rank-and-file police officers in the county, launched a scathing attack on Whitehall for failing to heed warnings over police cuts.

John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, told The News: ‘This is what I have been warning could happen for years. I have been accused of scaremongering, of crying wolf and putting the fear in the public when it wasn’t necessary.

‘It’s clear now that these warnings have sadly come to roost.’

Havant MP Alan Mak said he is already working with other Hampshire MPs to lobby for more cash for police.

Hampshire police said there were two PCs and three PCSOs covering the island and that there were ‘no plans in the near future’ to cut these numbers. A spokeswoman added other response and patrol officers were also on hand to deal with active crimes.

Witnesses or those with information on the pharmacy raid can call 101, quoting 44170433162.