One of the country's leading fashion designers has blamed a "complete lack of visible policing" in the West End of London for fuelling a spate of robberies from luxury goods stores.
Anya Hindmarch, the handbag-maker famed for her I'm Not A Plastic Bag tote design, suffered her fourth smash-and-grab raid in six months on Tuesday, when two men on a moped used a sledgehammer to shatter the window of her shop in New Bond Street. Watched by passers-by, they sped off with more than £30,000 of handbags, accessories and footwear. The raid, at 10.45pm, was the latest on a designer shop in the Bond Street area. Other victims have included the royal jewellers Asprey and Mappin & Webb, as well as Cartier, Chanel, De Beers, Tiffany & Co, Gucci and Mulberry.
Most attacks have taken place after the close of business, and police are understood to believe that the crime wave is the work of a single gang of 50 loosely-affiliated criminals.
Last night, Ms Hindmarch said: "I am absolutely gobsmacked that this could happen at this time on such a busy main concourse. These fearless hoodies and helmet-wearing crooks have absolutely no fear of authority or punishment. Until we have much tougher deterrents, they will continue to cause untold damage. I don't think we can prevent these attacks until we make it quite clear that those who are caught will face severe punishments."
Hindmarch, a nominee for accessory designer of the year in the 2007 British Fashion Awards, said that ram-raiding had "become a fact of life for retailers", adding: "The complete lack of visible police, who are totally under-resourced, means that even if, like us, you have the best security available, you are constantly vulnerable.
"We are especially so at the moment because everybody has seen photos of Angelina Jolie wearing our [£675] Cooper Bag and wants to get their hands on one." The designer, 40, said the robberies were the work of "greedy thugs out to get a quick buck with minimum risk to themselves". But she warned: "I'm telling them, 'Just you wait – I've got a few tricks up my sleeve and next time you won't be so lucky'."Reuse content