Vandals’ war on traders

Forty per cent of traders have suffered attacks by vandals in the last 12 months, an Evening Post investigation can reveal today.

In our survey, some traders in Lancashire said they had been targeted more than 10 times in the last year. Some small shops have now taken on security guards.

Stores revealed they were counting the cost of attacks which have seen insurance premiums rocket.

It comes after rioting yobs trashed small businesses across the country in widescale violence earlier this month.

Thugs targeted a row of Penwortham shops in the days after the riots in copycat attacks.

But traders today revealed they had suffered years of small-scale attacks. Siamak Mohsenvand, who owns the Apples and Pears fruit and vegetable shop, on Pope Lane, Penwortham, has been targeted five times in the past eight years.

He said: “Sometimes it is the door, now it has been the window, one occasion was an airgun, and three times there have been bricks.”

And Ingol newsagent Ilyas Kazi has even had install a synthetic DNA spray that can’t be washed off.

Paul Foster, business development manager for the Federation of Small Business in Lancashire, said the cost of vandalism could easily add up to the same as the bill for a major riot.

He said: “It is the drip-drip effect, and that is why it goes unnoticed, it is often seen as a victimless crime, but it can actually be devastating for a business. Not only do you have the cost of clearing up the damage, you have the impact on the morale of a workforce. Our own surveys show that while this kind of crime is isolated, where it does happen it is a major issue, people feel they are under siege.”

He added that many businesses felt there was “no point” in reporting incidents of vandalism to the police.

In our survey, carried out by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, 90 per cent of traders said those who carried out the acts of vandalism in the last 12 months have not yet been caught.

But Mr Foster urged small businesses to report every incident to convince police to increase patrols in their areas.

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