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Store theft response 'lacklustre'

A designer handbag store which had £150,000-worth of stock stolen has described the police response as "lacklustre", "deflated" and "broken".

The Designer Exchange in the exclusive Knightsbridge area of south-west London was broken into yesterday and was "robbed, as was the UK, of one of the finest Hermes collections of Birkin and Kelly handbags that were available to buy in a single store, probably in the world", according to the shop's managing director.

Dominic Durante said his store was targeted in "broad daylight" following two failed attempts during the night.

He said the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea needs police officers patrolling the streets in marked vehicles, and said he was pretty sure design giant Chanel would make "a large contribution".

In a statement about the incident, Mr Durante said: "Eventually the police arrived, lacklustre and broken. This was not a force to be reckoned with, this was a deflated, beaten, disillusioned sorry lot who had seen it all before and were helpless to do anything about it."

He went on: "We and all the other stores in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea can continue to put up barriers to protect our staff, customers and goods, hire security guards and install locked, bullet-proof cabinets.

"We can continue to expect desperate people to take what they can't afford or take advantage of opportunities that currently are so available.

"Or we could think outside the box and tell retailers to open their doors and feel free to allow the world to see, touch and buy freely without risk because everyone knows that the police are outside to ensure law and order.

"Simply we need numbers, bobbies patrolling and marked vehicles circulating.

"Every other minute a police presence should be around. There should be no need for shutters or alarms because everyone will know that only a crazy fool would take the chance.

"Protect this very special square mile. Us retailers would be happy to pay for the extra police presence. I'm pretty sure Chanel would make a large contribution to start the ball rolling."

Yesterday, Scotland Yard said police in Kensington and Chelsea were appealing for information and witnesses after officers were called to Egerton Terrace at 4.30pm to reports that two unarmed masked men had entered the store and seized a number of high-value handbags before making off in a dark-coloured vehicle.

No arrests have been made and no one was injured.

On the Designer Exchange website, it says: ''We love designer handbags. We aim to revolutionise this second-hand industry and want to give our customers a better way to buy, sell and exchange.

''We guarantee all our handbags and accessories are authentic as it is vital to give our customers peace of mind when paying for such high-value items.''

The store's Instagram account describes it as a ''Knightsbridge-based prestigious boutique with rare, vintage, new & pre-loved designer handbags."

Photographs shared by the store feature bags by designers including Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Alexander McQueen.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police responded to the criticism and said that officers from Kensington and Chelsea do patrol the area.

He said: "Officers attended the Designer Exchange in Egerton Terrace within six minutes of the initial call to police.

"Unfortunately, the suspects made off prior to police arriving.

"Four officers and a sergeant were initially assigned to the call and attended the scene. A search of the local area was conducted.

"Two scenes of crime officers and a detective constable attended to take forensic samples, witness statements and initiate a thorough and detailed investigation within two hours of the crime taking place.

"Officers from Kensington and Chelsea do patrol the area with officers assigned to locations based on intelligence gathered from local communities and predictive crime pattern analysis."


From Belfast Telegraph