GREAT Grooms owner James Podger has issued an alert to the Hungerford antiques trade after his premises were ‘cased’ by potential burglars.
The incident took place on Saturday, May 15, a busy trading day.
“While sales staff were away from the desk the rear door chime alarm sounded in the private office area, meaning the door had been opened,” Mr Podger told ATG. “Charlotte [his wife] and I ran to the office, around the building and even into the street, presuming someone had taken something and left the building via that door.”
They then checked the security camera footage and saw a customer loitering by reception, clearly taking note of the antique centre’s security.
“When the way was clear for a moment, he entered the office space and after a few seconds the door chime alarm sounds – he had opened the door.”
Instead of leaving that way the man was filmed re-entering the showroom and calmly looking in a showcase while Mr and Mrs Podger ran to check the office.
“In the office he would have been able to see the covert camera screen as well as the location of other cameras, the alarm, possibly safe location, panic alarm location, key cabinet etc,” explained Mr Podger.
“We believe there were three people working together casing the showroom on that Saturday: two men and one woman. We have images and security camera footage of all three and this will be passed to the Police. Also some of the dummy camera wires around the showrooms had been pulled out and one window lock to the silver room had been removed.”
Mr Podger acted immediately, calling in a security & risk management surveyor who inspected the premises and compiled a report with recommendations to improve security further.
Great Grooms already has a security tagging system. Now Mr Podger expects to spend in excess of £10,000 on further upgrades. “Some measures have been implemented already and all others will be in place within the next two to three weeks,” he told ATG. “Until then we are seriously considering employing a guarding company to protect the premises out of hours.”