Three Suffolk post offices targeted in overnight burglaries

The first post office to be hit was Premier Stores in Shotley Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The first post office to be hit was Premier Stores in Shotley Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

Burglars made off with cigarettes following three nighttime break-ins at post offices across the county.

The third premises to be targeted was Old Forge Stores in Grundisburgh Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The third premises to be targeted was Old Forge Stores in Grundisburgh Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

Police were called to three burglaries at stores in Shotley, Great Blakenham and Grundisburgh in the early hours of this morning.

The first call came in at 1.50am, with reports that banging had been heard outside the Premier Store on The Street in Shotley.

It is believed that three males broke the shop window and made off with cigarettes.

MORE: Police confirm FOURTH Suffolk store hit in spate of overnight burglaries

Police then received a second call at 2:11am, with reports that Budgens on Moses Walk, Great Blakenham, had also been targeted.

Just under two hours later, a third incident was reported at 4.23am – regarding a break-in at Old Forge Stores on The Green in Grundisburgh.

Again, banging was heard and cigarettes were taken from the premises.

MORE: Watch shocking moment burglars smash window of Suffolk store

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A spokeswoman for Suffolk police confirmed that officers are treating the incidents as linked.

Nobody was injured and no arrests have yet been made.

One retailer whose shop door was smashed in one of the raids said it was a “real shame” that his store had been targeted less than two weeks after opening – but he blamed budget cuts, and not officers, for rising crime.

Daniel Pont, manager of Budgens in Great Blakenham, said there was no “real incentive” for burglars to stay out of trouble due to a lack of police on the streets at night.

“I am quite hardened to it,” he said. “[But] some of the chaps that have to work up to 10 o’clock at night – it is not a nice thought to know that those people are out there.

“I don’t lay the blame at the police’s door. The two officers that turned up this morning were very helpful.”

Mr Pont said the main threat to convenience stores was born out of a lack of police at night, when many officers are forced to work alone due to budget cuts.

He added: “We would love to see more police in and around the area.”

Police are appealing to anyone who may have information to assist the investigation to contact Suffolk Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 37/61630/18.

It comes as the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) urged the Government to take action in the wake of a new report from the Home Affairs Committee, which showed crimes including robbery and theft have been increasing sharply after a long period of crime.

The report, entitled ‘Policing for the Future’ reveals that recorded crimes have risen by 32% in the last three years, while the number of charges/summons has decreased by 26%. Meanwhile, neighbourhood policing has been cut by over 20% since 2010.

Research conducted by ACS earlier this year shows that 82% of retailers are concerned about the consistency of the response from police, with 73% dissatisfied with the time taken for the police to respond to incidents.

The 2018 ACS Crime Report also shows that the number of incidents of theft in the convenience sector rose from 575,000 in 2017 to 950,000 in 2018.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Home Affairs Committee report highlights the significant pressures that police forces are under to deal with the rising levels of crime. Convenience stores are an all-too frequent target for robberies, theft, verbal abuse, ram raids and attacks on retailers and staff. If a crime is committed, the police must respond and investigate, and the courts must pass an effective sentence.

“We need a collaborative approach to ensure that crimes are being dealt with properly rather than being ‘screened out’ or ignored. This means beat police officers, neighbourhood policing teams, police and crime commissioners, the courts and rehabilitation programmes all playing their part. Retailers are investing record amounts in crime prevention measures, but they must be supported by the police and the justice system.”

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