TRADERS in Cirencester have called for action to put a stop to the regular burglaries that have been blighting their businesses, after three town centre shops were broken into in one night.

Clarke and Salter, Ava and Iva, and Café Mosaic, all in the town’s Woolmarket, were raided by thieves overnight between last Thursday and Friday, in the latest of a string of burglaries.

On the same night, attempts were also made to enter jewellers Walter Bull & Son on Dyer Street, but the thieves were thwarted when the front door window failed to shatter.

Nick Salter, owner of Clarke and Salter, said almost all of the Woolmarket businesses had been broken into in recent times, some on multiple occasions.

He said: “We’re three in a month, then you’ve got the dog grooming shop which was done six months ago, the hairdressers has been broken into twice, the bike shop was done. This much crime is not acceptable.

“Most businesses are run by families and individuals. It’s more than just about financial impact, it’s about confidence, our safety. You’re thinking: ‘Oh, God, I’m going to wake up in the morning to something.’”

Paul Hinsley, who owns Café Mosaic, said it was the fourth time in eight years that they have been raided, though he praised the police for their response following the latest break-ins.

“It just seems there are a select number of people in Cirencester who are determined to make it difficult,” said Paul, who was the first trader to arrive in The Woolmarket on Friday morning.

“If you could sort that out, it would be fine. It’s the nuisance value; we lost half a day’s trade,” he said, adding: “It’s only the small businesses that seem to get hit and it’s small businesses that suffer the most from the effect of something like this.”

Paul questioned how effective the CCTV in the surrounding area is, while The Woolmarket itself is not covered by CCTV, despite being privately owned and managed by Carter Jonas.

“It’s difficult for the police. They need some help.”

Nick said the problem is evident all over the town, with numerous break-ins and robberies in recent weeks, including at Chesterton Stores, The Mounties and Beeches Stores.

He said there needs to be greater CCTV coverage and police presence to deter thieves and that all parties needed to get together to find a workable solution.

“Look at Cirencester as a whole with its CCTV. We need to be able to say: ‘Look guys, if you come here there is a network of cameras, we’re going to pick you up’.

“I’m less keen to bring it down to one shop or the Woolmarket, but I am much more keen for Cirencester as a whole to make it safer.”

Nick said he believes the police “are missing the bigger picture”.

“I really want the council to debate this. I want to get together with the traders here and out there and go to the council and say: ‘what are you doing?’”

“Something has got to change, nobody’s joining the dots. I reckon it’s 50 break-ins in shops in the last three to nine months,” he added.

He said the total cost of recent break-ins at Clarke and Salter and next door’s Ava and Iva, owned by his wife Sian, amount to about £2,500.

Jane Noonan, who works for Nick, agreed that there is “no deterrent and the thieves know it”.

“We’re easy pickings and thieves know that now and are targeting villages and small communities, people like us more so because of police cuts and council cuts.

“Less police, less money to spend in the communities.”

She described the situation as “like the elephant in the room”.

“It is a huge problem and it’s getting bigger and people need to know about it,” she added.

Andrew Tubb, chief executive officer of Cirencester Town Council (CTC), said: “The town council regularly engages with local businesses and retailers on a range of issues, through a number of forums, including its own Retail Forum, the Chamber of Commerce and Community Development Trust.”

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Brierley said he sympathised with those affected, adding: “It is important that the fear of crime does not obscure the reality that Gloucestershire is a safe place.

“The PCC Martin Surl has asked the Chief Constable to find a way of improving neighbourhood is the golden thread that runs through the heart of what the police do.”

Cotswold Inspector Karen Ellis said officers are making enquiries but believe these incidents are linked to a known offender.

She added: "The impact things like this can have on smaller businesses is big and that is why we have visited a number of shops in the area to give them advice and warnings.

"We are making enquiries and believe this is linked to a known offender and we are working hard to locate them.

"Only last week in a separate case we charged someone in the area with theft and therefore this shows that we do take this crime very seriously."

John Goscombe, 43 and of Bowly Road, Cirencester, was charged last Friday and is due to appear at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court on November 1 in relation to a theft.

A spokesperson from Carter Jonas said: “We review security procedures on a regular basis and after the recent break-ins are in the process of doing so again. We are looking to improve the lighting, the possible installation of CCTV cameras and additional boundary security.

"Our priority is to ensure the safety of our tenants, employees and those visiting The Woolmarket.”