Most business owners and employees The Herald spoke to confirmed monitors had been stolen during the past few days.
The thugs targeted businesses mainly contracted to Atlas Security and the alarms were never activated. Over the past few days, criminals targeted businesses in Central, particularly Westbourne Road.
A young woman who did not want to be named said she had been held at gunpoint yesterday while four men filled bags with items.
She said it was the third time in two months that the shop had been robbed.
Elizabeth Austin of Keith John‘s Gallery said she and other employees in the Westbourne Road area felt “angered and insecure” because of the escalating crime.
About 10 days ago, management and staff of Keith John‘s Gallery discovered that thieves had smashed a side door with a rock and made off with a computer monitor, an empty till and a CD player.
“Four days later, and this time using a bigger rock, they came early in the morning and smashed the laminated window. They removed the monitor which had been replaced earlier,” Austin said.
Apparently the alarm was activated, but Atlas Security said they never received the signal. Austin‘s colleague, Asja Babulewicz, said it was no longer safe to do business in the area or to have a single employee in the shop.
A few metres from the gallery is Jet Travel, which was also targeted the same day.
The gang smashed the glass window in the front door and stole a computer screen. The alarm was also activated, but the signal was apparently never received.
Des Bartlett of I-Stream advertising agency in Central was another victim. His business was broken into twice on Friday night. The alarm never went off. The gang made off with two graphic design computers from the Cuyler Street premises.
“The problem is not just that everyone‘s business is being broken into, but that someone seems to order these computer monitors. For months guards were visible in Central, but suddenly they are conspicuous by their absence,” said Bartlett.
Atlas Security operational manager Monty Montgomery said the theft of computers and laptops was not only a major problem in the Central area, but also in Newton Park and Summerstrand.
“I am not sure where these computers are going to. What bothers me most is the fact that you don‘t find a warehouse where they keep them. They simply disappear and I suspect there is a big market out there,” Montgomery said.
He said the criminals were very advanced and knew how to beat the alarm system.
He urged businessmen to upgrade and install the latest system available on the market. He said in three out of 30 burglary incidents in Central Atlas Security had not received any signals.