Police deny claim of crime wave

Hawick councillor Watson McAteer outside Retreat in Silver Street, Hawick.
Hawick councillor Watson McAteer outside Retreat in Silver Street, Hawick.

An ex-police chief claims Hawick is in the grip of a crime wave after the latest in a series of shop raids in the town netted the culprits a £4,000 haul this week.

Break-ins at retail premises in and around the town’s High Street have been increasing at an alarming rate in recent weeks, with even charity shops being targeted by thieves.

One of the latest raids was at the Retreat beauty products shop in Silver Street in the early hours of Sunday morning.

More than £4,000 worth of products were taken.

It has also emerged that police in the town are also dealing with a series of house break-ins over the same period.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer, a retired police divisional commander, believes the town centre burglaries are clearly linked and that a small core of offenders is likely to be responsible.

Mr McAteer also believes a bigger police presence on the streets of the town would act as a deterrent to offenders and plans to contact senior officers to express his concerns.

However, a police spokesman responded by taking issue with claims that Hawick is in the midst of a crimewave and defended the current deployment of officers across the town.

Mr McAteer said: “Many people in Hawick are concerned at the level of thefts taking place in the town, specifically the brazen break-ins at shop premises on the High Street.

“I have been in contact with the police divisional commander seeking to understand just what they are doing to catch the offenders and stop this crime wave.

“I have no doubt these crimes are being committed by a small group who could not care less about our town and who are more likely funding alcohol or drugs-related habits.

“There is a strong impression that the lack of visible police numbers is contributing to the current problems, a matter I will discuss with senior officers.

“In the meantime, I would ask the public to contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 should they have any information that would assist the investigations.”

Chief Inspector Andy McLean, area commander for the Borders, said: “I would take the issue with the assertion that there has been crime spree in Hawick or that there are not enough officers deployed to the area.

“We have a dedicated community team based at Hawick police station who work with our partners to ensure the safety of those living in the area.

“The area is also supported by specialist officers from across the Lothian and Scottish Borders division who can assist in criminal investigations.

“Officers are investigating a spate of commercial housebreakings which have occurred in the Hawick area over the last few weeks.

“Officers from our criminal investigation department are investigating these incidents, and they are currently following a positive line of inquiry.

“Nevertheless, we will not tolerate any criminality that is occurring in our community, and I would ask anyone with information about these incidents get in touch with us.

“They can do so by contacting 101 or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”

No one from the Retreat was available for comment.