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Gidea Park newsagents threatened with ‘machete style knife’ as frustrated residents relaunch Neighbourhood Watch

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 03 March 2020

Two men wearing balaclavas stole hundreds of pounds from Raymond Newsagents in Belgrave Avenue on February 23. Picture: April Roach

Two men wearing balaclavas stole hundreds of pounds from Raymond Newsagents in Belgrave Avenue on February 23. Picture: April Roach

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After a newsagents was robbed at knifepoint residents in Gidea Park relaunched their Neighbourhood Watch to tackle what they say is a rise in crime in their area.

Residents in Belgrave Avenue are concerned about a rise in burglaries and crime theft in their area. Picture: April RoachResidents in Belgrave Avenue are concerned about a rise in burglaries and crime theft in their area. Picture: April Roach

Two masked robbers targeted Raymond Newsagents in Belgrave Avenue on Sunday, February 23 at 7.20pm.

A staff member told the Recorder: "They were two young men, maybe 20 to 22 years old.

"They kept saying 'give me money, give me money' and one of them was carrying a big knife."

He added that in the seven years he'd worked in the newsagents he'd never experienced a robbery like this.

A spokesman from the East Area Command police unit said: "Two suspects wearing balaclavas entered the shop, one of them was in possession of a large machete style knife.

"They demanded the till to be opened, taking the money and cigarettes."

The police were unable to find any leads to suspects and the case has been closed.

Residents believe the robbery is part of a rise in crime in the area.

They relaunched a Neighbourhood Watch (NW) group to keep track of incidents happening in and around Belgrave Avenue.

Darren Anderson, NW co-ordinator, said: "We started a Whatsapp group about three weeks ago and it's just snowballed.

"At one point nine cars were stolen in four days and there were three attempted burglaries in Cambridge Avenue, Ferguson Avenue and Amery Gardens."

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As the co-ordinator, Darren receives details about crimes in the area from the police which he then shares with residents, along with tips about how to ward off car thieves.

Residents are advised to buy a steering lock or faraday pouch for keyless cars and to remove blue badges and any valuables from their vehicles.

Joan Thomas, another member of the watch, was particularly shocked that the "hard-working" staff at the newsagents had been targeted.

"We've always looked out for each other," said Joan. "[The thieves] took everything, even pennies.

"The shop is never closed - we couldn't function without them."

Darren added: "It makes me so angry that they could rob a small shop like that.

"The shop workers are part of our community."

The residents wrote to their Romford MP Andrew Rosindell who said he was "shocked and appalled" at the news of the newsagents robbery.

"Over the weekend I have been organising a meeting with local residents and Havering police to assure them they have my full support and to help them in every way I can," said the Romford MP.

"The government is serious about tackling crime, that's why the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have announced the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers over the next three years and the re-introduction of Stop and Search to give police officers the powers they need to stop these dangerous criminals.

"Havering needs more police and I will be fighting to make sure we get them.

"I want our town and the people of Romford to feel safe.

"As someone who has lived in Romford all their life, I care about the security and safety of my town and people should not be living in fear."

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