Comment: Raiders left coffee shop staff violated

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , MP for Blackburn

IF anyone ever tells me again that burglary is a ‘non-violent’ crime, I’ll scream.

Over the years I’ve been driven mad by those who have tried to downplay the effect of burglaries on their victims – even where there has been no direct confrontation with the criminal.

Last Saturday morning I went off to Britain’s best tea and coffee merchants, Exchange Coffee in Fleming Square, Blackburn, to get my usual supplies.

As I walked up the street – one of the few architectural gems in the town to survive the early sixties’ bulldozers – I noticed that one of the windows had been put in.

The shop had been burgled in the small hours of the morning. The till had been taken – with several hundred pounds inside it.

Of course, no staff were on the premises when the burglary took place. But that did not stop the employees I saw on Saturday morning feeling very upset, and justifiably angry, that their store, their work, their lives had been violated in this way.

For sure, burglaries of people’s homes are the worst of all; but ‘non-domestic’ burglary, of shops and factories, still has real victims.

Part of the staff’s anger was against the criminals who committed the burglary. But part, too, was in frustration about complacency which had led to no CCTV evidence being available.

There’s a large CCTV camera on top of a very high pillar the end of Fleming Square, but it was monitoring Mincing Lane the whole night, and never panned round to watch these shops too. I’m certain the crooks would have worked that out too.

I’ve asked the council, whose camera it is, about this failure and what steps they are taking to ensure that town centre CCTV is better operated in future. Lightning may not strike twice in the same place, but burglars often do. It’s nasty, but if you’ve been a victim once, you are more likely to be a victim again.

Crime in Blackburn town centre is down significantly compared to previous decades. But one crime is one too many, as this burglary reminded me so vividly.

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