Sheffield businesses forced to take action after spate of break-ins

Independent businesses are installing roller shutter doors and putting other precautions in place in fear of being broken into again.

By Molly Powell
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 5:00 am

Independent businesses are installing roller shutter doors and putting other precautions in place in fear of being broken into again.

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Following a spate of break-ins and vandalism attacks, where independent businesses have been targeted in Sheffield, owners have spoken out about the impact crime is having on their livelihoods.

Nancy Leitch is one of a number of Sheffield business owners left counting the cost of crime

On January 10, at 2am, Glory Holes, an adult only golf club that opened in the first week of December, had it’s front door smashed.

The perpetrator threw a brick twice but on the second attempt, he hit his leg and limped off, according to the owner, Eddie Hinson, 27.

Mr Hinson said: “It looks so bad for a new business to be boarded up.”

He is now looking into into buying shutters and gates.

A door at Glory Holes in Sheffield was damaged in a vandalism attack

On the same day, Savills Barbers on Devonshire Street was broken into, and owner Annabel Stonehouse-Davies, 50, is now also considering installing shutters.

She received a call from the shop manager, at 8.45am telling her that a burglar had been caught on CCTV at 4.50am.

The footage showed a man walking past her Devonshire Street shop twice carrying a brick, before throwing it at the glass.

He crawled through the hole, then took off his hoodie, revealing his face.

He trashed the whole of the reception area, stole £500 and took an iPad.

Annabel claims South Yorkshire Police found fingerprints and blood as the crook was not wearing gloves.

She was also able to track the stolen iPad, and identified the location as a house in Broomhall, but claims the police said they did not have the powers to enter the property.

Nancy Leitch, who runs a bakery in Halfway, Sheffield, outside her business premises which were broken into earlier this month

She said: “I thought this was ridiculous. All the evidence is there - they have the DNA and location of the iPad but supposedly couldn’t do anything.”

The repair costs are expected to amount to £2,000 to replace the door, glass, imagery on the glass, the till drawer and iPad.

The barbers couldn’t open until midday that day so it impacted staff pay too.

The perpetrator was in his late 30s to early 40s and had a beard and was bald on the top of his head with hair round the sides.

On the same day, Bakes by Nancy, owned by 25-year-old Nancy Leitch, was also broken into through the roller shutter door at her Halfway premises. She is now setting loud alerts to her phone each time movement is detected at her business.

Between 3.45am and 5.30am, Miss Leitch had four notifications that motion had been detected on her Ring doorbell - a doorbell with a camera inside - at her premises at White Rook Business Park.

Miss Leitch said: “I feel so unsettled every time the doorbell goes off now, and it sets me into a panic.”

She said she never leaves valuables or money on the premises, so nothing of great value was stolen.

Mini bottles of alcohol used as cake toppers, as well as spare change from a cash box were remove.

Isabella’s Italian restaurant on Alma Street in Kelham Island was burgled at 6.30am on Thursday, January 6.

The owner said he is unsure whether precautions can be taken to stop burglars altogether, saying “it’s just one of those things”.

At 6.30am the burglar alarm at his restaurant went off and the CCTV footage revealed a man smashing a rear window and climbing in.

The perpetrator took iPads, float money from the till as well as spirits, wine and champagne.

Owner, Steve Miccoli, 50, said: “I felt angry mainly and obviously I feel sad too because of the damage done. The staff also missed out on getting paid so they’re upset too.”

South Yorkshire Police were called, but Mr Miccoli said: “The police said because it’s a petty crime, and there was no evidence, like blood on the window or fingerprints, they can’t do anything.”

Mr Miccoli added that he is in a Facebook group for Sheffield bartenders where offences are regularly reported.

Plantology on Devonshire street has been broken into four times since the pandemic, the last time being in December.

Owner, Jill Winton, 52, said: “I have become numb to it. I feel very victimised and I take it personally because my business is like my baby.”

As a precaution, Plantology rarely takes cash and ensures not to leave any valuables on site.

The owner has considered getting shutters, but said does not want to cheapen the area and thinks leaving a light on in her pretty shop window creates a positive vibe for the street.

Mrs Winton has had the business for 25 years and she said there has been a rise in independent business break-ins over the last few years.

Each time there has been a break-in at Plantology since the pandemic, nothing has been stolen but windows have been smashed.

It has cost the business around £200 each time in repairs.

PC Paul Briggs, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We do not believe these burglaries are linked and enquiries are continuing into the reports. A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary in connection with the incident at Couch on Campo Lane, reported on January 10 and released under investigation.”

He added: “We are acutely aware of the disruptive and emotional impact burglaries can have on victims and communities, and in the city centre we have a problem solving plan in place which has helped to reduce burglaries by 17 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020, which had been reduced by 22 per cent from the year before.

“We understand that despite our successes the impact of a burglary for that victim and their neighbourhood will be foremost in their mind. So our focus will be preventing the next offence and identifying and arresting suspects.

“Local officers are embedded in the communities we serve and they work alongside businesses to spot repeat offenders, spikes in offences and types of offending. We also offer crime prevention advice to reduce the potential reward for criminals and make life more difficult for them. Advice includes installing CCTV and security shutters.

“A dedicated burglary team based within the district also helps to prevent crimes and bring offenders to justice when they do happen. We regularly bring offenders to justice.”

Anyone with information about any of the incidents is asked to call police on 101.