The organisers of some of the capital’s regular fairs and markets are hoping increased prevention will deter criminal gangs from targeting the trade.
Matthew Adam of Adams Antiques Fairs, which runs the fair at Victoria’s Royal Horticultural Hall, said: “Our exhibitors’ safety and security is paramount and we will do whatever is needed to allow them to continue trading without the fear of crime.”
The ‘Horti’ fair previously employed three security guards and two porters and is increasing this to five guards and four porters as well as more CCTV cameras.
Sunbury Antiques, which runs regular events at Kempton, Sandown and Wimbledon, has also increased security and reviewed its protocols.
Sunbury‘s Edward Cruttenden said: “With the recent publicised spate of thefts we have taken the decision to employ a dedicated SIA [Security Industry Authority] security personnel who will work solely with our traders and customers throughout the Kempton event to bolster our existing security while providing an extra physical presence.
“We have also been in contact with other event locations and gained some CCTV stills of suspicious individuals which we displayed throughout the exhibition halls.
“With the increased publicity and the sense of community within the antiques trade everyone is more vigilant and looking out for one another; taking turns to help them pack up or look after their stands… I’ve even stood behind and looked after a trader’s pitch while they visited the WC.
“We will continuously review our security protocols and with increased vigilance, awareness, and collaboration with the authorities we all hope these individuals will face prosecution.”
Cameras keep watch
Paul Kelly, who runs Bermondsey Square Antiques Market, is also planning to introduce a camera system for extra protection in addition to the CCTV in the square.
Alongside the measures taken by organisers, one market dealer added: “The main preventative is common sense. For instance, dealers should not put their bags down for a second. Tie cases on to your stall or chair, be alert and look at who is near you. If you see anything suspicious, then tell neighbours as well as the organisers and security. We need to all work together.”
Although individual thefts have been reported to the police force local to each crime, Opal, a national intelligence unit focused on serious organised acquisitive crime (SOAC), has been made aware of the recent incidents.
Opal is not actively investigating these individual crimes but Tom Jones, Det Con and Intelligence Development Officer in Opal (Tackling Serious Organised Acquisitive Crime), offered advice to the antiques trade. He said: “One MO that stands out to me is that the offences take place when victims are travelling. Dealers should try to vary the routes and travel routines to and from places, including fairs and markets. Offenders will often use reconnaissance tactics to plan their offending around these routines.
“Offenders may operate in teams and could use a decoy person or distraction technique to draw the victim’s attention away from the primary offender.
“Be aware of this and try to be aware of your surroundings and environment.”
For more on security measures being taken by fairs see this week's Letters.