Violent thieves punch and threaten security guard in Chiswick Boots

Image above: Thieves caught on camera emptying the cabinets and attacking the security guard

Spike in violent robberies since the new year 

Violent thieves punched a security guard at Boots in Chiswick so hard that his glasses broke, his dentures fell out and his arm was cut open.

In CCTV footage of the incident, seen by The Chiswick Calendar, three men all dressed in black can be seen entering the shop at 332 Chiswick High Road at 6.05pm on Monday (5 February).

While attempting to break into two protective glass cabinets, which house high-value fragrances, one thief attacked a member of Boots’ security team who attempted to intervene. The security guard fell to the ground, and was punched in the face by one of the men.

Staff said the thieves threatened the guard while he was down. As the security guard got back to his feet, the thieves ignored him and usde a specialised glass-breaking tool to smash open the  cabinets. In total, the men make off with roughly £5,000 worth of items.

This follows a brazen robbery at the store at the end of January where two young men emptied the contents of shelves into bags.

READ ALSO: “Utterly brazen” thief sings while stealing products worth £5000 from Chiswick Boots

Image above: Thieves have stolen three cabinets worth of fragrances from Boots in under a week

Staff say they feel unsafe going into work

“They paid no attention to [the security guard] at all” the manager on duty told The Chiswick Calendar.

“When he was down on the floor [the thieves] said he was lucky they weren’t carrying knives” they added. An eyewitness told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I saw two men ripping the glass panels off the perfume displays. The security guard was cut and bleeding. One of them said ‘you’re lucky it was just a tap.’ There was a commotion, with people trying to ring the police and the police not responding.”

This is the seventh significant, and the most violent robbery the shop has experienced since the start of January. Last Friday, another thief acting alone broke into a different fragrance cabinet and emptied its contents and on Sunday a teenage girl told The Chiswick Calendar she witnessed another robbery:

“I was in Boots looking through things and there’s a Ted Baker section. I saw one dude stuff a load of Ted Baker stuff into his rucksack and just walk out.”

Management at Chiswick Boots told The Chiswick Calendar they felt increasingly unsafe going into work. While shoplifting is a daily occurrence in this branch of the beauty and pharmacy retailer, staff said violent robberies of this nature were becoming more frequent, organised and brazen.

What can security guards actually do? And what are police doing?

Thieves seem to be aware, staff said, that it is unlikely they will be caught or even investigated, and so are becoming increasingly confident with each raid, despite Boots increasing security at the Chiswick site because of the spike in thefts.

But security guards generally have limited authority to touch people, acting largely as a visible deterrent only. On this occasion the security guard was heard shouting at the men to get out, but was just ignored.

Security guards may use “reasonable force” including physical contact, to protect themselves, others, or property from immediate harm or danger. Security guards can also, like any UK citizen, perform a citizens arrest. Under s 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, an arrest can be made for most indictable offences if:

  • someone is in the act of committing an offence, or who you have reasonable grounds for suspecting them to be in the act of committing an offence; and
  • an offence has been committed and the person you want to arrest is guilty of that offence or who you have reasonable grounds for suspecting they are guilty of it

But intervening almost certainly comes with the risk of putting security guards, other staff members and the public in greater danger.

Despite thieves becoming more organised and violent, there have been no arrests so far from the incidents at Boots this year. While police routinely collect CCTV footage from the store and a crime reference number is provided to the company for insurance purposes, incidents of shoplifting and robberies have only increased and police do not respond quickly enough when called, staff said.

After the last incident which The Chiswick Calendar reported, when the thief’s face was clearly identified in the video, local police told us:

“We are fully aware of this offender and working towards identifying them.. hopefully will not take long.”

UPDATE: We approached them for an update and a comment on this latest incident. Sergeant Jim Cope, responsible for neighbourhood policing in Chiswick, told us the offender who had attacked the guard had been identified and Boots is receiving more support from the police.

READ ALSO: Chiswick Police focus on the High Rd after spike in robberies and an assault at Boots

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar