Brazen thieves return to break into Chiswick shop after £25,000 heist

Image above: The shop front of Riccado 

Thieves smash in front door of Riccado after finding staff locked the door

A group of thieves responsible for a heist worth tens of thousands of pounds from Riccado, the menswear shop in Chiswick, in broad daylight, are thought to be the same gang who attempted another break-in several days later. A group of eight thieves attempted to break in last Thursday (22 February) when one individual tried to kick in the locked front door, damaging the door’s frame and smashing the glass. Repairs are still underway at the shop’s entrance.

Riccado, which stocks expensive men’s clothing from well-known brands such as Boss, eleventy, Paige and MooRER, as well as a range of Italian brands, originally had around £25,000 worth of clothing stolen during opening hours on Tuesday 6 February, when a gang of male thieves arrived at the shop at 204 Chiswick High Road. The men, wearing all black and face coverings, spread out across the shop, before grabbing items they liked and running out the front door.

CCTV footage of the incident, obtained by The Chiswick Calendar, shows the group taking their time looking at coats and jackets – some of which cost up to £1,500 – before stealing the ones they liked. Members of staff commenting on the video said:

“Look at that, they’re just casual.”

Another said: “They’re choosing. They’re choosing what they want.”

“They’re just acting like shoppers aren’t they?” said the first.

Caught on camera, but no action from police

Shivani Bector, the manager of Riccado, wasted no time in calling the police for them only to turn up over a week later on Wednesday 14 February. Officers told Shivani that it would be too late for forensic evidence to be taken, but took a USB of CCTV footage from her and said they would return the next day to take witness statements. They never did.

A few days later, to her dismay, Shivani received an email from the Met, saying:

‘We are sorry to hear you have been a victim of crime. An investigator from the Metropolitan Police has looked carefully at your case and we are sorry to say that with the evidence and leads available it is unlikely that we will be able to identify those responsible. We have therefore closed this case.’

Since then, the group has returned to the shop regularly to linger outside the front door, forcing staff to shutter the business for the shop’s and their own safety. When they came back last Thuursday at around 11.30am, staff had time to shutter the shop. One man then proceeded to kick the shutter, damaging the front door’s frame and smashing the glass.

“We put the shutter down, literally in the middle of the day” Shivani told The Chiswick Calendar. “We ring the police, and say they’re trying to get in right now and do you know what they said?They said we will contact you in 48 hours… and did they call? No!”

Above: YouTube video of the £25,000 heist from Riccado on Chiswick High Road

Management consider hiring private security as staff are “petrified”

Riccado’s staff said they feel unsafe going into work now, saying they feel terrorised by this gang and fear their increasingly organised attempts to steal from the shop.

“The guy who was here [during the heist] doesn’t want to come back to work because he’s scared. It’s not really fair on him and everyone is quite petrified” Shivani said.

The shop, like many now along the High Road such as womenswear shops Whistles, Jigsaw and Mint Velvet, operate on a locked door policy.

Riccado’s management recently paid to have a panic button installed too and have stopped stocking specific brands which they deem too expensive, hoping it will make the shop less of a target.

“We are actually looking into getting our own private security now, because the police won’t even turn up. Now we’ve got a panic button so it should call straight to the police, but we’re paying for it.

“It’s disgusting because we’re on a High Street. We’ve been here for 30 years and we shouldn’t have to put up with this”.

Above: YouTube video of the £25,000 heist from Riccado on Chiswick High Road

Cllr Joanna Biddolph “advised managers not to show footage to journalists”

The management are unhappy with the police response and feel that they are doing more work to identify the culprits than police are. Shivani said she was unhappy with her local councillor’s response too, Gunnersbury Ward representative Cllr Joanna Biddolph.

Feeling hopeless with the police response, Shivani pitched the idea of submitting the CCTV footage to the national press in the hopes of boosting the chances of identifying the gang and reigniting the police’s interest in the case. Shivani added:

“We said we were going to publish the pictures and content and [Cllr Biddolph] said ‘No, don’t do that it will bring negative attention to the area”.

“We have footage of these kids and we actually have faces. I was going to go to the Daily Mail and I was going to go to the BBC and post these videos because it’s disgusting.”

While most of the culprits have face coverings in the shop’s CCTV footage, there are a couple of identifiable faces.

Acting Inspector Michael Binns, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing across the borough, told The Chiswick Calendar said he was not personally aware of the recent offences, but following our reporting had made contact with the shop’s owners “to get more details and review the investigation whilst the ward seargent is unavailable”.

Above: YouTube video showing gang returning to Riccado and attempting to break in during the middle of the day

Cllr Biddolph renews call for Law Enforcement Team in Chiswick

Cllr Biddolph denied telling Riccado staff to hold off sending footage to journalists. She told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I don’t give my opinion, I only reflect what others have said to me. My response was that it was important to find a balance as fewer people are coming to Chiswick because of things like shoplifting…  but then this isn’t this only place where it’s happening.

“Everyone would like to see [police] more often, we are clear as a group that we want more police. We have worked very had to fight for a base for them in Chiswick since the police station closed…”

“I am absolutely clear we want more police, and we have been absolutely clear that we need to have a Law Enforcement Team similar to the one in Hammersmith & Fulham.”

Last year, Hounslow Council voted down an amendment by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors designed to create a dedicated team to tackle crime, specifically shoplifting and anti-social behaviour across the borough.

Asked whether the recent increase of violent thefts along the High Road might convince Hounslow Council to reassess whether Chiswick needs such a Law Enforcement Team, Cllr Biddolph said:

“We haven’t given up asking and we won’t give up asking.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar