SHOPS and businesses in the Waterside have suffered damage and lost hundreds of pounds in cash after being targeted in a spate of break-ins.
Over just two weeks a butchers, a bakery, a fish and chip shop, and a hotel have all suffered raids.
Steven Taylor, owner of Sargents Butchers in Beaulieu Road, Dibden Purlieu, told the A&T his shop door was smashed last Friday before two thieves stole around £200 cash from the till.
He said: “The two lads were caught on CCTV at around 2am when they broke the window of the door with a hammer. Then they came back around 5am to take the money. It’s frustrating and it’s a sad situation.
“They just seem to be targeting any businesses at the moment that they know will have cash. It’s getting beyond a joke. But the police do not have the manpower to deal with it.”
Thanks to social media Steven was later reunited with the cash drawer from his till, which was found in Marchwood Inclosure by a dog walker.
Thieves also smashed the front window of Blackfield Bakers in Hampton Lane, Blackfield, and stole £70 from the till on 7th February.
Owner Rob Wall, who lives above the shop, told the A&T: “They kicked the bottom panel [of the door] through and stole the tray out of the till. It was very scary.”
Rob called 999 but as the thieves were no longer on the scene he was advised to ring the non-emergency number 101.
He added: “I was on hold for an hour-and-a-half, but no one answered. In the end we reported it online. It’s a bit disappointing that they didn’t even come out – it makes you feel vulnerable.
“All I got was an email with a crime reference. I felt demoralised. It’s not just the act, it’s the after-effect as well. We’re forever on tenterhooks.”
Thieves also targeted Chip N Tails in Hollybank Crescent, Hythe, which had around £1,500 taken from a safe on 11th February.
Cllr Alex Wade, who is a member of Hythe and Dibden Parish Council, said: “This is a brilliant independent business in the heart of the Hollybank estate and like Fountain Court [Hotel] a few weeks back, a victim of a break-in that impacts the hard-working owners in our community.
“If anyone knows anything, please let the police know.”
As reported in the A&T, the Fountain Court had its fruit machine stolen on 1st February. Burglars broke in through its main doors using what is believed to have been a crowbar sometime between 1am and 1.30am.
The damaged fruit machine was discovered the following day on a track alongside the B3054 at Hilltop with £1,000 missing.
A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary told the A&T: “As part of any investigation strategy we will review similar crimes and link where evidentially appropriate. This work is ongoing.”
Anyone with information about any of the raids is asked to ring Hampshire police on 101.