Police ‘rising to the challenge’ as latest ram raid sees shop front smashed and cash machine stolen

Co-op ram raid in St Ives

Co-op ram raid in St Ives - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire’s police and crime commissioner says his force is doing “everything it can” to catch ram raiders.

The news comes after another cash machine theft in the county within the last week, which takes the total since January to 11, more than one incident a month.

The St Ives Co-operative, in Constable Road, was the latest shop to be targeted, with raiders striking in the early hours of Thursday morning.

A cash machine was removed using a mini-digger, leaving a hole in the wall of the store.

The St Ives shop isn’t the only one to have been targeted in the Huntingdonshire area, in August a BP petrol station in Great North Road, Eaton Socon, was raided.

Of the 11 raids this year in the county, five have been in Huntingdonshire, including two in Eaton Socon, one in Warboys and one in Ramsey.

The other six raids took place in Isleham, Great Shelford, Chatteris, and Fulbourn.

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The Willingham Co-operative shop, in High Street, was also targeted twice in the space of a month.

However, commissioner Jason Ablewhite says the constabulary is doing everything it can to try and combat the raiders.

He said: “I completely understand that this kind of crime can cause concern and disruption to local communities. However, I want to reassure the public that the constabulary is doing everything it can to track down those responsible and I urge anyone with information about these incidents to contact the police as soon as possible.

“While instances such as this are increasing nationally, I remain convinced that Cambridgeshire Constabulary is rising to the challenge. For example, in April work by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit led to a gang being charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit burglary in relation to ram raids across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Lincolnshire.

“I remain committed to combating such crime, and I would like to reassure the public that our officers are working extremely hard across the county to ensure we stay safe and secure. Due to this hard work and diligence Cambridgeshire remains one of the safest places to live.”

Out of the 11 raids in Cambridgeshire, six were at Co-operative stores, where offenders have tried to remove cash machines from shop fronts.

A spokesman for Central England Co-operative has said it is in the process of installing new security measures in a bid to reduce the number of ram raids at its stores.

It has also recently installed external motion detectors across dozens of sites in the area and a centrally monitored CCTV system is also being fitted which will allow colleagues to call for assistance by touching a button.

A spokesman for Central England Co-op said:

“We are doing everything we can to prevent incidents like this from happening, but if something does happen we offer them [staff] support and counselling both from within our business and specialists.

“We are using a central monitoring system that will allow colleagues to press a button to alert a special control room who will then be able to watch what is happening on CCTV and call for immediate assistance from the emergency services if required.

“This allows for quicker support for colleagues as incidents are escalated quicker and will also help increase colleague’s perception of safety and security, something of which has happened when the system has been installed elsewhere across our business. “External motion detectors have also been installed outside of our food stores and will be activated outside of trading hours. When activated they will switch on CCTV cameras to record any out of hours activity and contact police if needed.”

Police forces across the East of England have also been struggling to combat a spike in ram raids, with seven incidents recorded in Essex, and 10 between Norfolk and Suffolk so far this year.