The affluent town Forced to hire private bobbies to protect itself
HOMEOWNERS in one of Britain’s most exclusive suburbs have told how a crimewave including zombie knife attacks and murder forced them to hire private security guards, writes Jon Austin.
Residents of Chigwell in Essex have been plagued by aggravated burglaries, car crime and street robberies as gang violence and crime from London spills into the suburbs.
This month a man was slashed in the face with a blade after robbers smashed his car window in a shopping parade at 12.45 pm.
It came after a previous attack when three moped-riding robbers armed with “zombie” knives tried to attack a man to grab his expensive watch in front of families outside the David Lloyd sports club. The victim had to scale a fence to escape.
Chigwell has been made famous by the BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather and the ITV reality show The Only Way Is Essex, which starred Mark Wright, 31, and his sister Jessica, 33.
But the town has seen a London gang-related murder off Manor Road – Chigwell’s most exclusive street dubbed millionaires’ row where some properties sell for more than £4million.
Moses Mayele, a trainee football coach, was stabbed to death on his 23rd birthday on October 12, when a 22-year-old man was also stabbed, but survived.
Ibrahim Mohamed, 19, has been charged with Mr Mayele’s murder and attempted murder of the other man. Notable residents in the area include Lord Sugar, who has faced a break-in at one of his properties.
Burglaries, including aggravated ones when homeowners are inside or even attacked, are becoming more frequent in Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill and Loughton, two neighbouring towns, the three of which are together known as the Essex Golden Triangle.
There were 16 burglaries or attempted ones in the three towns, mostly in Chigwell, in one week from November 5 to 11. A spate of vehicle crimes saw two Mercedes cars stolen.
But now residents in one road said they were looking to hire security patrols from My Local Bobby, a firm run by former Met Police detectives.
One homeowner said: “We have had a lot of burglaries and car crime, but at a meeting with the MP, police and council they said they couldn’t really help us because there was only funding for a couple of police officers for the whole district.
“What difference are we going to see from that? We don’t see police walking up here and are drawing up contracts to use this security firm.”
Residents which have hired the service since June claimed there have since been no burglaries or car crime.
A pensioner, who now lives alone after 42 years in the road, said: “It has changed a lot here and we were getting a lot of break-ins.
“You used to get police walk up and down but I haven’t seen one for at least 10 years.”
She has been broken into three times, including once when she was asleep inside and birthday presents were taken.
She said: “Nothing has happened since they started the patrols. I feel a lot safer, it is the reassurance.”
One of two My Local Bobbies working the road, who gave his name as Liam, said: “We have seen people who look like they are casing out a place or who are not from the area and approach them and politely ask what they are doing. They tend to just leave it is a deterrent.”
My Local Bobby boss Dave McKelvey added: “We are just doing what police used to do – putting bobbies on the beat. We deter crime in the areas we have patrols. I have no doubt it is keeping these areas safe
‘We don’t see police on patrol’ ‘What we do is a deterrent’
and it proves high visibility policing works whether it is by police or private security.”
But not all residents want the private security. One said: “They want £100 per house a month. How do we know we can trust the security people?”
An Essex Police spokesman said: “While we understand concerns about a number of reported incidents in the Chigwell area, we are taking proactive steps to reduce crime. We ask people to continue to report crimes to us so that we can investigate them and build up a picture of emerging crime trends so that we can target our resources.”
ON PATROL: My Local Bobby ‘Liam’ patrols Chigwell, below, which has seen benefits
REALITY TV: The Only Way is Essex starring Mark and Jessica Wright based in Chigwell