Ram raiders strike in village again
RAM raiders have struck at a village store in Essex for the second time in three months, putting its future in doubt.Masked raiders used a Suzuki 4x4 to smash into the front of the Co-op store at Dedham at 1am yesterday morning in a "carbon copy" of an earlier attempt to steal a cash machine.
RAM raiders have struck at a village store in Essex for the second time in three months, putting its future in doubt.
Masked raiders used a Suzuki 4x4 to smash into the front of the Co-op store at Dedham at 1am yesterday morning in a "carbon copy" of an earlier attempt to steal a cash machine.
Once again the would-be robbers failed but it is estimated the damage to the Grade One listed building could cost as much as £20,000 to repair.
Yesterday the Co-op said it would immediately apply for permission for security upgrades for the store's frontage, such as bollards – warning the future of the store could depend on it.
Essex Police believe it was the same gang responsible who had carried a ram-raid at the building three months ago.
After failing to drag the ATM from the store the gang then tried to remove the cigarette kiosk but were unsuccessful.
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Co-op staff and contractors worked through the night to reopen the store which was trading again by 1pm.
A statement from the Colchester and East Essex Co-operative Society said: "Whilst the society recognises that Dedham is in a conservation area and has always been sympathetic to the store's design and planning, repeated attacks are placing the future of the cash machine and, possibly, even the store at risk."
Retail operations controller, Willie Hamilton said: "It has been very distressing for staff and customers to arrive at the store and find out it has been the target of another malicious and mindless ram raid, particularly given the memories of the last one are still fresh in our minds.
"We take comfort in the fact that despite the thieves' best efforts, internal security measures means they have gone away empty handed once again."
He added: "The damage to the shop's frontage is even more extensive and initial estimates could cost up to £20,000 to repair due to the store's listed building status."
Detective Sergeant Roger Napier of Colchester Police said: "They tried to batter their way through the doors of the Co-op to get the cash machine and tried to drag it out, but once again have failed.
"They always have the same method, using two cars, one to batter the shop, the other to escape in.
"There is no doubt they are the same lot as last time."
He warned that anyone who witnessed the gang in action should make no attempt to confront them as they were potentially dangerous.
Christopher Garnett, who represents Dedham on Colchester Borough Council, said: "Obviously we regret the second ram raid, especially as it's happened so very quickly after the new cash machine had been installed.
"Clearly we don't want the Co-op to consider closure. I'm already negotiating with officers to see what arrangements can be made to protect the Co-op and make it more secure, bearing in mind it's a listed building and it's in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
"I'm sure with a bit of consultation between parties concerned we can achieve something that will protec the Co-op and keep it open. It's providing an essential service to the village and surrounding villages."
Anyone with information about the incident should call Colchester police on 01206 762212.