‘Install CCTV or crooks will always target seaside idyll’

Local shop keeper Marc Kilsbie is standing for Sidmouth Town Council. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 45

Local shop keeper Marc Kilsbie is standing for Sidmouth Town Council. Photo by Terry Ife. Ref shs 4528-35-14TI To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on myphotos24 - Credit: Archant

Criminals will continue to ‘plunder this sleepy seaside idyll’ until a CCTV system is introduced, a shop-keeping councillor has warned.

Some 16 properties were targeted - several successfully - in a spate of burglaries in August, and Marc Kilsbie said Sidmouth would not be seen as a ‘soft touch’ if security cameras were in place.

A mooted CCTV system attracted £31,000 in donations after it was first touted in 2006, but rising costs meant it was later abandoned.

Councillor Kilsbie, who owns Flo and Us in Fore Street, thinks it is time to revisit the idea. He said: “We’ve got people coming here thinking it’s a sleepy seaside idyll – let’s go plunder it.

“It’s ridiculous. We shouldn’t have to go to bed wondering how many shop doors are going to be kicked in.

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“We have to have centralised CCTV across the trading area of Sidmouth. If we don’t, it’s going to get worse.”

The original call for CCTV came after an incident in 2006. The chamber of commerce initially aimed to raise £65,000 for eight cameras, but was then told 22 would be needed – with a purchase, maintenance and monitoring cost of £250,000 – or crime would merely be displaced.

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“Nothing was done because people said it wasn’t fair not having it everywhere,” added Cllr Kilsbie. “You have to start where the problem is.”

Katrina Lort, whose restaurant The Loft was broken into last Monday night, said: “I definitely think the town needs CCTV. We now realise we aren’t in our own little cocoon – what happens in the rest of the country affects us here, too.”

She added that a greater police presence would make her feel safer.

Church Street’s Jbm Jewellery lost several thousands of pounds worth of jewellery in a break-in in January - but the burglar had been seen nearby an hour before he smashed the front door.

Owner Madeleine Smith said: “If they got a clear picture, perhaps they could have made a prosecution. Whatever system you have has to be effective and good quality.”

Many CCTV systems are run by local authorities, but Sidmouth Town Council previously said it could not take on maintenance of the system.

Chairman Jeff Turner said this week: “Last time we looked at it, we came to the conclusion that the costs would make it barely worth it.”

But he said there was no reason the debate should not be revisited, and suggested involving the chamber of commerce.

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