Pay us £1,200 to move out of your yard, de­mand trav­ellers

They want cash from busi­ness­woman, 84 – but po­lice say it’s not black­mail

Daily Mail - - News - By An­drew Levy

WHEN a fam­ily of trav­ellers drove their car­a­van into her firm’s yard, Eve Tay­lor was nat­u­rally con­cerned.

But the 84-year-old busi­ness­woman was down­right out­raged by what hap­pened next.

First the trav­ellers de­manded a £1,200 ‘ran­som’ to move from the load­ing bay at her cos­met­ics com­pany. Then po­lice re­fused to take any ac­tion, claim­ing the ran­som was a ‘pro­posal, not a de­mand’.

Mrs Tay­lor’s or­deal be­gan when the ‘ex­pen­sive-look­ing’ car­a­van and car with two adults and four chil­dren parked at her firm on a busi­ness park in Peter­bor­ough.

Po­lice re­fused to in­ter­vene as the trav­ellers were on pri­vate land. Dur­ing the stand- off, an­other trav­eller turned up and de­manded the money, warn­ing: ‘It’s cheaper than go­ing to court.’

Great-grand­mother Mrs Tay­lor, who founded her fam­ily- run cos­met­ics busi­ness in the 1960s, said: ‘I rang the po­lice and they said “It’s not a threat”.

‘I said it’s black­mail and they told me, “It’s a pro­posal”. I asked what would hap­pen if I stood there with a gun and they said that would be a threat. I said, “Not if I don’t fire it – it’s only a pro­posal”.’

Mrs Tay­lor said she had heard ru­mours that an­other lo­cal busi­ness was asked to hand over £1,600 in a sim­i­lar scam. She does not know which busi­ness it in­volved or whether they paid. Six car­a­vans had parked on her premises two years ago.

But this time – at 9.30am last Wed­nes­day – she or­dered staff to rush to close the gates, and only one got through. A man and a woman with three very young chil­dren and a girl aged around 13 parked their ve­hi­cles where lor­ries col­lect or drop off items for the com­pany, which em­ploys 20 staff and does busi­ness around the world.

Mrs Tay­lor said an­other trav­eller turned up shortly af­ter­wards and told her: ‘Give us £1,200 and they’ll be gone in five min­utes. It cheaper than go­ing to court. There are five other vans on the way.’

She re­fused to bow to their threats and pre­vented the fam­ily from re­turn­ing to their car­a­van when at one point they left in their car. How­ever, po­lice of­fi­cers who turned up at about 3pm said she had to let them through. Mrs Tay­lor said: ‘I pay £40,000 a year in rates but the coun­cil couldn’t do any­thing.

‘They gave me de­tails for some bailiffs’ firms.The po­lice told me to go to a so­lic­i­tor but what money would I get back from that? Why don’t we get pro­tec­tion as cit­i­zens of this coun­try?’

The trav­ellers left at 4pm af­ter their ruse failed. But the busi­ness has now in­stalled locks on the gates and a buzzer for vis­i­tors to ring when they ar­rive or leave so staff can let them through.

The com­pany, which makes aro­mather­apy and skin­care prod­ucts, was founded in London in 1963 but moved to Peter­bor­ough in 1984. In 2008 Mrs Tay­lor was awarded an OBE.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Andy Gipp, area com­man­der for Peter­bor­ough, said: ‘The sit­u­a­tion was in­ves­ti­gated and we con­cluded no crim­i­nal of­fences were com­mit­ted. The call han­dler ad­vised the com­plainant that this was a civil and not crim­i­nal mat­ter.’

Out­raged: Eve Tay­lor and the car­a­van parked on her land

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