THIEVES who ripped through the front of a shop to steal cash have left a retail giant picking up the cost of yet another ram-raid.
A digger was left outside The Co-op on Hambledon Road, Denmead, after part of the store’s cash machine and cash boxes were stolen at about 1.30am yesterday.
The retail giant, which has had its Cowplain and Clanfield shops targeted numerous times, said the crimes clearly have a cost and affect employees as well as communities.
Shocked Hambledon Road business owners have also spoken of the nightmare situation that has seen a spate of thefts and burglaries in the area.
A spokeswoman for The Co-op said: ‘We have, and will continue to invest in measures to help deliver a safer and more secure environment across our stores, working closely with Hampshire police on a number of initiatives.
‘As a locally-owned co-operative, these crimes clearly have a cost to us but also have an impact on our colleagues and the communities they are based in.
‘Unfortunately incidents such as these occur across the country and affect the whole retail sector.
‘We are hoping to re-open our Denmead store today. Essential items such as milk and bread are available in the smaller Post Office store opposite.’
The Co-op’s Post Office store on the other side of the road was initially unable to open as the keys were in the raided store.
Police said a Ford Transit van thought to have been used in the burglary was recovered near Old Winchester Hill.
Enquiries are ongoing and no arrests have been made.
Sergeant Stuart Gilmour said officers from the Neighbourhood Policing Team will be patrolling the area.
Rachel Emery, 40, runs Gino’s barbershop two doors down from the Co-op. She said: ‘We got here and I thought “oh my god”, it’s a massive shock.
‘It’s all becoming a bit of a nightmare here, it seems like small shops and areas are being targeted.’
Sandy Barnard, 54 and the owner of Barnard’s Coffee House & Restaurant, added: ‘It’s very sad and it does make you worry.
‘There’s been a lot of thefts around here recently, it makes you nervous to go out.’
‘MORE CCTV CAMERAS AND BOLLARDS NEEDED’
‘THIS is clearly a major issue for businesses.’
Ross McNally, executive chair of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said a spate of ram-raids have taken place across Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey in recent months.
He said: ‘Small areas are being targeted because its easier for people to ram-raid them with impunity.
‘This is clearly a major issue for businesses.
‘When this happens it affects the whole high street or small village it’s happened in.
‘Local communities, police and retailers have got to be able to get together with the government and get more funding to get rid of this problem.
‘Criminals see these shops as a soft target and we’ve got to do things like increase CCTV and install bollards to deter them from doing such things.’
Hampshire Constabulary said it is unaware of a rise in thefts and burglaries in the Denmead area, following claims from locals.
YET ANOTHER CO-OP TARGETED BY RAM-RAIDERS
THE THEFT at the Co-op store in Denmead, on Hambledon Road, follows a number of ram-raids that have recently taken place in the area.
In August the Milton Road Co-op in Cowplain was targeted, but ram-raiders failed to take the store’s cash machine. Extensive damage was caused to the front of the store. There were two other attempts prior to this, all within the last 12 months.
In July the Clanfield store on White Dirt Lane had its front wall demolished after thieves took off with its cash machine.
Criminals used a stolen forklift to ram the store. Police enquiries are ongoing and no arrests have been made for this incident, or the latest ram-raid in Cowplain.