THE manager of Blackburn railway station’s kiosk is considering quitting after thieves escaped with £5,000 of cigarettes and his takings.
Amjad Anwar said yesterday’s raid, while the shop was closed, was the latest in a string of incidents at the Station Kiosk, including repeated shoplifting and an assault last summer.
The 26-year-old, who has been helping run the family business for eight years, said he was so demoralised by what had happened he was thinking about shutting the shop.
He said: “This is the final nail in the coffin for us.
“I am devastated. Things are tough at the moment. We are considering closing it down because it is unsustainable and we are already struggling.
“The thief took about £5,000 of cigarettes and all Saturday’s takings.
“Given that we are next to a police station, we did not expect to be broken into.
“We will probably reopen today (TUES), but it will not be business as usual because we have got to get the stock in.
“It puts the shop in jeopardy because it is a low margin business.
“People are struggling and they just take whatever is not theirs. The morality is not there.”
As well as the tobacco, a till containing £500 was also grabbed after the burglar smashed their way in through a window.
Yesterday, police crime scene investigators were working to collect evidence from the newsagents.
Officers were also set to examine CCTV in which Mr Anwar said the suspected burglar could be seen wearing gloves and holding carrier bags.
It is thought the thief came from off the tracks before jumping over a wall and down the ramp on the concourse.
The till was also found dumped on the railway line.
Mr Anwar said he believed the thief had specifically targeted the cigarettes as other stock remained untouched.
In August, Mr Anwar said he was punched in the face by a customer in an argument over 5p.
The manager, whose sister Nighat owns the shop, said he believed the work being done on the regeneration of the town centre made it easier for thieves to attack.
He said: “Even though we are in the town centre, the hoardings mean there is only a little bit of visibility and we are secluded.”
The manager appealed for anybody who had any information about the burglary, which happened just after midnight yesterday to tell police.
Coun Suleman Khonat, who represents the town centre and is also a spokesman for the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, said times were hard for small businesses.
He said: “It is sad to hear this. We have a situation where the number of thefts on retail premises are increasing all the time.
“It is very worrying because we are there for the community. We are serving the community all the time from early morning to late in the evening.
“I know the lad whose shop has been targeted very well. He used to be my paperboy and my heart goes out to him.
“He has worked very hard to be able to be where he is and it is really a shame.
“People need to consider that these little shops might close. They will go all together and they could just be an empty shop sadly.
“It is very concerning because we have got young people trying to make a living. They are getting into business at a very early stage and looking to prosper, but sadly, there are some culprits who try to stop them.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said they had been made aware of the burglary and said an investigation was ongoing.
Anybody with information is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.