Shopkeepers in St Dominic’s Square at Lewsey Farm say they feel unsupported by the police in a shoplifting epidemic, writes Connie Primmer.
Baz Patel, the owner of Nisa Local, says his store loses £300-400 a week from shoplifting, and the police rarely respond to his calls.
The issue was raised at the Lewsey Ward Forum on Tuesday, and councillors said they would arrange a meeting with shopkeepers to discuss it.
Mr Patel said: “We have shoplifting daily, and probably call the police weekly. It’s both adults and children and it’s certainly got worse in recent years.
“The police write it off as a small crime and don’t bother to come out – they don’t see it as a problem. We still call them, but they keep you on the phone for such a long time and make it such hard work.
“If we’ve got CCTV footage we have to spend our own money burning the DVD and then they often don’t bother to pick them up. Sometimes we catch people ourselves – once we had a guy in the back who’d been stealing cans of Stella and we were waiting an hour for the police to come for him.
“They cuffed him up in the shop but let him go once he was outside.”
Mr Patel and Nisa manager Scott Jell said they believe shoplifters often ‘steal to order’ and sell the stolen goods in local pubs. They once had £60 worth of laundry detergents stolen in one go.
Mr Jell said: “There is no police presence here at all. We used to have two PCSOs but they stopped coming quite a while ago. They spend more time in Hockwell Ring now, but as soon as you neglect one area the same things start happening again.”
Residents at the ward forum also said there is no police presence and shopkeepers have to police it themselves.
Raj Singh has run a discount shop in St Dominic’s Square for about eight years.
He said: “We work hard to scare shoplifters off ourselves. We’ve installed CCTV and we try and scare people so they don’t steal again. We were losing business. We used to call the police but they never came so we’ve stopped bothering to call them, what’s the point?”
A Beds Police spokesperson said: “We do all we can to help shopkeepers with security and anyone caught shoplifting will be dealt with robustly.”