Saturday - 02 August 2014

Gang could be targeting Portobello

29 October 2012Written by ATG Reporter

Portobello Road dealers fear they are being targeted by a gang of robbers after the latest attack on traders this year.

On Saturday, October 13, two dealers were confronted by three men dressed in black as they left their home to come to the market and their stock was taken. They were said to have been seriously shaken up and bruised.

In another incident on the same day a trader leaving the market area to fetch her car believed she was followed "with a view to robbery".

As reported previously in ATG, dealers have felt increasingly threatened by robbers and have been angered by cuts in police patrols on Saturdays, when tens of thousands of visitors come to Portobello. They feel especially vulnerable when moving stock early in the morning or in the evening. One jewellery trader reported being attacked with a knife in the summer. Dealers believe their movements are being tracked.

Costas Kleanthous, chairman of the Portobello Antiques Dealers Association, renewed his call for better police protection and CCTV coverage of the area. An earlier plea brought a promise of some extra officers, although not boosting numbers to the former level.

"Police are not taking it seriously enough," he said. Mr Kleanthous called for plainclothes officers on the street, and more CCTV cameras to cover the whole area around. Such steps would be "a tremendous help," he said.

Funding Question

It was hoped that CCTV could be funded by a local businessman who had shown interest, but this seems to have gone nowhere, and Mr Kleanthous said Kensington & Chelsea council was not showing any signs of supporting extra cameras.

Portobello dealers have given descriptions of the gang thought to be targeting them - made up of "half south London and half eastern European" members.

They are thought to use a taxi parked up around the area to watch people and alert other gang members to traders coming and going.

In an email to various interested parties, Christopher Hickey from the Central Gallery called on dealers to "get organised and put pressure on the police. We want answers and we want security. Above all we want action. The police have the details, they have proof of this gang's intentions. We want them caught".

ATG asked the Met police to confirm details of the robberies and for a comment, but they failed to respond.

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