‘When will it end? That was the message from residents who have been left shocked by the latest ram raid at a community store along the A3 corridor near Waterlooville.
Police are investigating the latest attack on the Milton Road Co-op store in Cowplain after a stolen black Land Rover smashed into the store around 12.30am on Wednesday morning. But criminals failed in their quest to steal a cashpoint before speeding off.
It is the second ram raid attempt on the store in the last 10 months while similar incidents took place at the Co-op on White Dirt Lane, Clanfield, and Waterlooville Leisure Centre just last month.
In Clanfield, an ATM was taken from the Co-op before the gang blew up the truck used to get in before making off in another vehicle. An attempt to lift the cashpoint at the leisure centre was unsuccessful.
Police have confirmed they are investigating whether all three raids are linked, especially with them bearing many of the same hallmarks. ‘Residents can be reassured that we take all reports of this type of offence seriously and our officers continue to work hard to investigate these incidents with a view to identifying those responsible,’ a spokesperson said.
People in Cowplain are angry at the latest break-in. Pensioner Ron Spencer, 84, said: ‘It is very annoying. It’s the second time they’ve targeted the store after the ram raid last November. You wonder when it will end.
Ron’s wife Eva, 85, said: ‘It makes you think about your own safety which is why we have a lot of security measure in our home.’
A nearby trader, who wished to remain anonymous, added: ‘It is a worry they are targeting the area so much. This is not people doing it on a whim. It is clearly organised crime.’
Cowplain ward councillor Narinder Bains, cabinet lead for neighbourhoods, safety and enforcement said: ‘We will work with police to see what can be done to stop it.’
A spokesperson for Co-op said: ‘We have made a number of considerable investments in security which have helped to reduce crime across our stores. Unfortunately incidents such as these occur across the country and affect the whole retail sector as well as the communities they are based in.
‘We are working with Hampshire Police on a number of initiatives and are pleased to see the thieves were not successful on this occasion.’
On July 10 thieves used a digger to try to rip a cashpoint from Meon Hut service station in West Meon, and in February a bank in Bishop’s Waltham was targeted. The machine in Swanmore village stores was stolen in December, and in November an ATM at Rownhams services was taken.