The chair of Corby Pubwatch has launched a blistering attack on the investigation into a wave of burglaries at commercial premises in the town.
Mick Willey, himself a former police officer, has written to the new Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police Nick Adderley to ask him to ensure that members are kept better informed about investigations into nearly 30 break-ins in four weeks, as revealed by the Northants Telegraph this morning (Friday).
Mike, who represents Pubwatch’s 34 members, said in this letter: “Corby Pubwatch members are up in arms regarding what appears to be a lack of action by the Police in detecting and stopping this series of offences and also the lack of any form of updates after offences have been reported.
“Whilst licensed premises, public houses and clubs, are classified by the home office as ‘commercial premises’ for the purpose of crime recording many are occupied and used as dwellings with families living on the premises.
“Many of the burglaries have been captured on members’ CCTV systems and images of the offenders and vehicles, being used, have been seized by the police. Members have also identified, and named the offenders as local criminals.
“Despite this the burglaries continue and it appears that the police are doing nothing. Many of the CCTV images show an offender carrying a large crowbar which is frightening.”
The Northants Telegraph was contacted by several licensees yesterday about their fear of the crime gang that they say is made up of local people who they recognise. The Northants Telegraph has asked the police to make public CCTV images to help catch the offenders but these have not yet been provided.
Mick’s letter continues: “Three years ago, during the Autumn of 2015, the members suffered a series of aggravated burglaries and robberies where members were threatened, children dragged out of their beds and threats made to force licensees to open safes, and also robbed at gun point and knife point at closing time.
“As you can appreciate memories are now flooding back and members are living in constant fear.
“My members appreciate the importance of partnership working and as a Pubwatch we organise and take part in initiatives to reduce crime within the night time economy.
“Members appreciate that due to financial constraints there are fewer police officers available at times, and that they have to rely heavily on private security more and more during opening times. What they don’t except is the apparent lack of interest in protecting them from burglaries, and the failure to keep victims updated. The police expect, as part of partnership working, members to pass intelligence through but appear not to act on that intelligence, and fail to pass any intelligence back to the members.
“It is frustrating to members that after reporting the crimes to the police they have to delay opening their premises until the arrival of investigators and scenes of crime have attended, and this causes a financial loss to their business, but the police can’t even be bothered to keep them updated as to progress of the investigation.
“While local Corby Police officers attend Pubwatch meetings and are very supportive of what we strive to achieve as a Crime Reduction Initiative they are not party to what is happening in respect of investigation of these offences.
“I hope that by writing to you it has highlighted the issues explained above and some changes can be made in the area of better communication with the victims, a two way flow of intelligence and making these offences a priority, and removing the fear.”
Landlord Craig Haldane, or the Cardigan Arms in the Old Village, was one of those targeted in the 2015 raids. He said: “I had an armed robbery here approximately four years ago which was absolutely terrifying for myself and my family.
“We were asleep upstairs in the pub and four men broke in wearing masks and carrying an array of weapons. They dragged my daughter who was 15 at the time out of her bed by her hair and terrorised us until they received some of the takings.
“This was a very terrifying experience and to be honest we still haven’t completely got over it.
“This is bringing back terrible memories for my partner, daughter and myself. The police have been given clear CCTV footage of offenders and names but still no one has been arrested for these offences.”
Corby Sergeant Jon Hodgson. He said: “I want to assure the community here that we are following a number of lines of enquiry and working very hard with our colleagues in Crime and Intelligence to track down the offenders responsible for these break-ins in order to bring them to justice.
“We are also working with the affected shop owners around crime prevention to ensure that anyone looking to break into their premises again is thwarted, caught and arrested.
“I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who may have information about this series of burglaries or anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious behaviour in the area.
“Anyone who does have any information should call us on 101 or if they would prefer to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”