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