BUSINESS leaders have criticised police cuts in the wake of a “shocking” spate of burglaries in Falmouth.
The number of break-ins has nearly doubled compared to last year, with six in the past week alone.
A victim of one burglary even claimed the identity of the raiders was common knowledge around the town., but police were unable to catch them
The Port of Falmouth Chamber of Commerce has blamed funding cutbacks and lenient sentencing for the rise and warned that costs will be passed on to consumers.
There have been 60 non-domestic break-ins since the start of this year in Falmouth, compared to 35 in the same period last year.
Burglars have been on a rampage through the town, stealing cash and leaving a trail of damage since the New Year.
Jeremy Edwards, chairman of the chamber, which counts many retailers among its 46 members, said: “It seems like it is a bit organised. I think it’s quite shocking.
“It is a worry, but not just to retailers. This is a matter for Joe Public, not just businesses.
“If it is retail businesses at the moment, are they going to go into homes? These guys are obviously professionals – where will they go next?”
Mr Edwards blamed government cuts in police funding and the court system.
“The issue is, do they sufficiently punish these people when they catch them? Are the penalties harsh enough? They just don’t seem to punish people these days.
“They (police) haven’t got the resources. All we hear about is cutbacks. Ground force policing, that doesn’t seem to happen these days.”
He said the crimes would push up the price of goods as business owners paid out for additional security and their insurance premiums increased with each claim.
One retail business owner who spent almost £3,000 on additional locks and security following two break-ins this year said: “Six in a week, that’s quite scary. Everybody is worried about security.” It’s a worry.”
Another commercial burglary victim, who also asked not to be named, said: “There is one group of people doing it. Everybody knows who they are. It is prolific. It is just catching them.
“I feel sorry for the police. We did have a break-in. The police were excellent. They did everything they could. They now know who it is but they are having a problem with forensics.”
Sergeant Martin Roberts, from Falmouth police, was not available for comment.
In an earlier statement he said: “We are experiencing a number of burglaries in and around the Falmouth area.
“I would encourage anyone who sees anyone acting suspiciously, or if they hear any commercial property alarms activating, to contact the police immediately by dialling 101.”