A COMMUNITY that lost its fight to keep a much-loved PCSO has hit out after burglars targeted one of its shops.
Martin’s newsagents in West Street, Portchester, was burgled in the early hours of yesterday.
The raiders escaped with a valuable haul of cigarettes.
But traders say the break-in might never have happened had PCSO Dave Earley not been moved to Havant 23 days ago.
Mr Earley was transferred last month as part of cost-cutting measures. That was despite a petition signed by thousands of business owners and residents urging Hampshire police to keep him in Portchester.
Jacky Emery, relief manager at charity shop Shine, which is opposite Martin’s, said: ‘Now we’ve lost our PCSO we feel abandoned.’
‘We’ve had someone trying to blag entry into the shop. When I asked him for ID he ran off. Luckily Dave was there and I told him and he said he would look at the CCTV.
‘I don’t know if they caught him but at least there was someone there. You very rarely see the police and now we’ve lost our PCSO.’
Volunteer at charity shop Sue Ryder Rebecca Dugan said: ‘Dave was the one who kept it all together, now it feels like the crime is going to start again. I definitely felt safer with Dave.’
Sue Ryder manager Karen Fry thinks the Martin’s break-in could have been prevented if PCSO Earley was still on patrol: ‘It would have made a difference because the PCSO’s presence acts as a deterent.’
The break-in at Martin’s happened at 2.45am yesterday.
Two men wearing dark clothing smashed a window to get in and stole the cigarettes.
Chairman of the Portchester Traders’ Association Kevin Butcher, who organised the petition to keep PCSO Earley in February, said: ‘Dave became an integral part of the community.
‘Him being here might not have prevented the break-in but I bet you there’s a good chance it would have done.’
Anyone with information regarding the break-in should contact the police on 101.