Shopkeepers living in fear after thieves steal thousands in spate of burglaries

SHOPKEEPERS say they are living in fear after a store manager was attacked in the most violent of a catalogue of burglaries in March.

A man lay waiting for Jerry Baldwin, manager of West End DIY, and attacked him as he tried to take the shop’s takings to the bank. He suffered severely bruised ribs as the offender escaped with thousands of pounds.

Mr Baldwin, who needed a week off work to recover from the assault, said: “It really shakes you up and makes you think.

“Your first reaction is anger but I’ve been through all the emotions. The thieves seem to be getting braver and braver.”

The attack has been followed by a startling spate of burglaries over the last fortnight.

Thousands of pounds were stolen as raiders targeted a host of businesses in the town including Italian restaurant Mamma Mia, card shop Greetings, Walkers bookshop and shoe sellers Stead & Simpson.

Nigel Lambert, manager of Greetings, said: “It’s not a nice feeling when you lock up. You can spend thousands on security but it doesn’t seem to stop them.

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“We have got to catch them quickly because it’s not going to stop. All the damage can cost thousands, yet they’re getting away with hundreds.

“When you turn that key in the morning, you’re afraid of what you’re going to find.”

Some stores in the town have resorted to putting signs up outside which state: “Police Warning: No money left in shop overnight”.

A police spokesman said: “As part of the investigation into a series of burglaries in March, we will be reviewing many hours of CCTV footage. We are working with Fenland District Council to review that footage.

“We have put a range of measures in place to catch those responsible and are following up several lines of enquiry. We would continue to ask for people with any information to call police.”

• Three men, aged 36, 24 and 19, have been arrested and bailed in connection with the burglary at Stead & Simpson.

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