A call has been issued for action after town centre traders in Hawick were targeted by thieves yet again.
High Street in particular has been hit by a series of break-ins over recent months, the premises targeted including including charity outlets Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland and Capability Scotland, beauty salon Retreat, the town’s Iceland store and mobile phone shop Fonehouse.
There was a sense of relief among retailers early last month when a suspect was arrested and charged in connection with a series of thefts, but now two new incidents have underlined the need for continued caution.
In the early hours of Thursday, August 31, an intruder forced entry into the Lily of the Valley florist’s shop in O’Connell Street, making off with cash from the till.
And in a second incident last week, a would-be thief tried to kick open the door at Katie’s Beauty Rooms, in Bourtree Place, before fleeing the scene empty-handed.
Gillian Finn, who has run Lily of the Valley for the last two years, is so concerned about the potential for future break-ins that she has decided to install CCTV cameras.
She said: “I have never had a problem with thieves before, but I spend a lot of time in the shop on my own, and this has made me feel intimidated.
“It makes you thing ‘are they going to come back?’
“The thieves had tried to force open the door but ended up smashing a window instead and crawling through, emptying the till, which had about £30 in change in it.
“I think it must have happened about four or five in the morning. I knew nothing about it until I received a message from my niece. There was already a photograph of police at the shop on Facebook.”
A would-be thief who attempted a break-in at Katie’s Beauty Rooms last week left empty-handed, however.
Shop owner Katie Hume said: “They tried to break the door in, and although they broke the lock, they didn’t get inside. The shop has only been open since April, and we haven’t had a problem before. It’s worrying.”
The latest incidents have led to a call from affected businesses for a meeting with senior officers from Police Scotland, and Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall is backing that call.
The independent Hawick and Denholm representative has received calls from five businesses in the town regarding their anxieties about the recent increase in break-ins.
He said: “These shopkeepers and other business owners are now calling for a meeting with senior officials from Police Scotland in order to have their fears allayed and also to ask what level of support they can receive from the police.
“I have asked Chief Inspector Andy McLean to give me sight of figures as to how many shops and other businesses have actually been targeted by thieves within the last six months in the town.
“I share and take on board all of those concerns raised by these business owners, and I think now it is time for a collaborative approach in trying to tackle this worrying issue.”
Mr Marshall also spent part of last weekend dealing with reports of vandal attacks in the town.
He said: “I was contacted by three constituents who have been the victims of vandalism, with Hislop Gardens and Havelock Gardens being areas of concern.
“Two cars were extensively damaged and a council litter bin was thrown over a wall.”