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Businesses on robbery alert
TRADERS say they are on alert after a big rise in the number of robberies of businesses in the city.
Oxford police chief Christian Bunt has also said he is concerned about the rise of nearly 90 per cent.
It comes as three businesses in Oxford have been targeted in five days, although these are not included in the most recent police figures which are up until January 31.
Retailers last night said it was a “worrying” situation and said they were looking at taking measures to protect their stores.
Yasir Hanif, owner of Yasai Computers in Headington, said: “It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. Everybody is concerned.”
Latest figures show there were 17 business robberies between April 1 last year and January 31 – up 89 per cent on the nine in the same period the previous year. There were 10 in the year before that.
Mr Hanif said: “That is very alarming, to be honest. For the businesses it is quite a big number.”
The shop owner now has six cameras set up in his Cinnaminta Road store. He said he and neighbouring businesses had even discussed employing a security guard.
He said: “We feel we are more of a target now and more vulnerable.”
McDonald’s restaurant in Botley was robbed by masked men on Tuesday morning after Littlemore News was hit by armed raiders on Sunday, while staff at a Headington Post Office were threatened with a knife on Friday.
Superintendent Christian Bunt, the Oxford area commander, said robberies were a priority for the city’s police and that there was a team dedicated to tackling it.
He said: “We have seen an increase in robbery at business premises in the last 12 months, which is naturally a concern.
“Robbery is a violent offence and can have a significant impact on the victims.”
He said the force was launching Business Watch next month to spread crime prevention advice among traders.
And he said robbers were being brought to book, adding: “We have had some very positive results in our investigations over the last 12 months.
“A total of nine arrests have been made and six people have been charged with robbery from business premises over the last few months.”
Emma Watson, manager of Cafe Aloha in Botley Road, said more CCTV was being put up at the premises to prevent future crimes at the site.
She said: “It is worrying and there seems to have been an awful lot recently.
“We are definitely going to be more vigilant, especially as we close quite late at night, there may be some chancers at those times.
“We had one incident where someone tried to not pay and we have put up more CCTV now.”
Graham Jones, of Oxford traders’ group ROX, said shopkeepers outside of the city centre were perhaps more vulnerable to attacks.
He said: “In the city centre we have the benefit of lots of cameras.
“However out in the suburbs, in areas like Headington, I think there are some issues where there is not quite so much CCTV.
“We would be happy to see greater police presence in the suburbs.”
Newsagent Vijaya Bandara Karunaratne, known as Karu, was hurt in a scuffle with the armed robbers at Littlemore News on Sunday.
He said: “I think the police are generally quite good and quick to act, but they can’t always be everywhere at once.
“Police can’t stop all the crime. Communities should work together as well to help tackle crime.”
Elsewhere in the county, business robberies have fallen. In Cherwell and West Oxfordshire they have gone from eight to seven in the same period; in the South and Vale, from six to four.
- Headington Post Office, London Road, on Friday. One man arrested and bailed until April 30
- Littlemore News on Sunday. A 34-year-old man and a 23-year-old man, both from Oxford, have been released on bail until April 30
- McDonald’s, Botley Road on Monday. Edward Gyima, 25, of Carlton Vale, London has been arrested and charged and appeared at Banbury Magistrates’ Court yesterday. Two other men, aged 19 and 18, from the Oxford area have also been arrested in connection
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