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Residents’ fury at Thames Valley Police over Hungerford crimewave

A TOWN centre crimewave has left residents feeling abandoned by police.

Despite promises of increased officer patrols, a fresh rash of burglaries has left misery and fear in its wake.

One furious publican, who has been targeted twice, said police did not even bother to attend but asked him to investigate for them instead.

Critics claim criminals have acted with increasing impunity since the closure of Hungerford police station in 2014.

The tri-station, nominally home to the police, fire and ambulance services, is not open to the public and police officers travel from their base in Newbury for each shift, where they cover a vast Hungerford, Lambourn Valley and Downlands area.

There was a furore in 2017, too, when a police officer told a town council meeting that officers would not be sent out to deal with shoplifters who stole goods worth less than £100.

The force subsequently denied that had been said – but the statement was recorded in the minutes.

In the latest rash of break-ins, in the early hours of Monday, May 22, a home in The Croft was burgled along with The Plume pub in the High Street and The Railway Tavern in Station Road.

Just last month Eliane’s cafe restaurant in the High Street was burgled – for the second time this year – and thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused.

The rising tide of drug dealing, vandalism and burglary prompted a recent crisis meeting between civic leaders, police and Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber.

But town councillors failed to secure an undertaking that officers would be permanently based in the town again.

Licensee of The Plume, Robert ‘Fluey’ Hall, said he had only just replaced £8,000 worth of goods stolen during last month’s burglary when raiders struck a second time on Monday.

He added: “The police didn’t even come out and check for fingerprints; they asked me to go knocking on doors to check if anyone had seen anything or had CCTV.

“I shouldn’t have to do their job for them.”

His wife Diane said she was fearful to go into the garden to let the dogs out at night.

Restaurateur Rafia Willmott, whose High Street cafe restaurant Eliane’s was targeted twice last month, said previously: "We've had continuous problems with drugs, hooliganism and vandalism.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said the latest burglaries were not necessarily linked.

He added in a statement regarding The Croft burglary: “Two offenders are described as being in their late twenties to early thirties, around 5ft 6ins tall, and wearing hoodies and dark clothes.”

The crime reference number is 43230223295.

Regarding The Plume he said: “Four Range Rover alloys, a large speaker and amp, frozen meat, tools for cutting wood and a lock to the storage room were stolen sometime between 1am and 10am on Monday.”

The crime reference number is 43230223717.

At the Railway Tavern, he said a toilet window had been forced open but nothing had been stolen.

The crime reference number is 43230224267.

Anyone with information about any of the above incidents should contact police via the non emergency 101 number and quote the reference number.

Alternatively the independent Crimestoppers charity can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via its website.

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