The owner of a burgled jewellery store in the Town of St George fears it could be targeted again.
Jan Card, owner of the Vera P. Card jewellers in Water Street, said yesterday that the store had been hit by thieves five times since the Olde Towne’s police station was closed in 2012 and officers moved to Southside in St David’s.
Mr Card added: “Since the station relocated, it’s ranged from a stupid drunk who picks up a pipe to groups of well-organised young men with guns.
“We’ve been in St George’s since 1954. There were no burglaries, and one theft when a tray of rings was inadvertently left on a counter.”
He was speaking after the store was hit by three thieves at about 3am on Saturday — less than two weeks after it reopened for the tourist season.
Mr Card said: “The consensus among merchants, and anybody who has been a victim of crime in St George’s, is that if we had an active station in town, the vast majority of these would not have happened.”
He added: “I wouldn’t have had to throw hard to hit the police station. The simple reality is that, with it active, the response to the siren would have been in the order of seconds.”
George Dowling III, elected Mayor of St George on Friday, said he had arranged a meeting with Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, in “the coming days”.
Mr Dowling added: “It’s not too much that goes on here, but it’s always nice to have a police presence.”
He said he planned to discuss with the commissioner “what we can do to improve our situation here”.
The re-establishment of a permanent police station in St George has been discussed under successive governments.
The House of Assembly was told by Wayne Caines, the national security minister, only a few months after the Progressive Labour Party regained power in the 2017 election that the former station, a listed building, was too rundown and its renovation was “not a likely option”.
But Mr Card said: “It’s not a good picture. Mayors have tried but the merchants could see this writing on the wall.
“There have been situations where people have run amok in town and done things like throw flower pots through store windows.
“It’s hard to imagine that would happen on Water Street, no matter what the state of mind of the perpetrator, if there were a police station with a working blue light.”
Vera P. Card, which has five staff, was closed for three months before it reopened on May 1 for the summer season.
Mr Card said it looked as though “somebody was paying attention”.
The raiders, who escaped on foot, were said to be three men in dark clothing.
Mr Card declined to comment on the value or types of items stolen, but said the loss was a blow.
He added: “We are breathing through a straw anyway. To lose inventory, especially inventory which is difficult to replace, affects our ability to pay wages.”
Mr Card said the break-in had increased tension in the town’s business community.
He added: “When it’s not you that suffers, you heave a sigh of relief.”
But he said: “It contributes to unease — the potential financial risk, the potential physical risk.”
The store was robbed at gunpoint in July 2016 and Mr Card said the experience “was a difficult thing to get used to”.
He added: “It’s not Bermuda. It’s certainly not St George’s. You’re not talking only about staff. Staff have families, and they feel the intimidation and fear as well.-
“That whole second wave of effects from the actual robbery is not to be ignored.”
He added: “Tracking them down is one thing, but the horse has bolted. The primary and the secondary effects of this are happening whether they get them or not.
“The kind of political will to get the station back can’t come from an individual. It has to come from a group that looks at the situation and jointly decides it needs to be fixed.
“I’m hoping that becomes a reality.”
Police have appealed for witnesses, especially drivers and others who may have seen suspicious activity around Water Street and York Street between 2.20am and 3am on Saturday.
Anyone with relevant information can also call the independent and anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.