Few retailers are untouched by violent crime. Anne Bruce listens to some personal stories

From shoplifting to armed robbery, from vandalism to arson, the Association of Convenience stores ranks crime as the number one threat to small stores. Even in the sedate town of Chichester, West Sussex, most of the Booker Cash and Carry depot customers we spoke to could recount a personal experience.
Eddie Treacy, of the News & Food store in the village of Felpham, ignored all the warnings not to take on the crooks and tackled an armed robber who is now serving a five-year jail sentence.
The raider, carrying what looked like a gun, came into Treacy’s 900 sq ft store on the Sunday evening after Christmas. He demanded the cash drawer, which contained £100, and grabbed a bottle of wine on the way out.
Treacy suspected the gun was “not the real McCoy” and gave chase, smashing the headlights and windscreen of the getaway car, making it easy for police to identify. Treacy is now involved in another case after he challenged a thief who had filled up a carrier bag with coffee from his store and tried to make a run for it.
He says: “The problem is the criminals can’t hit the big boys any more. A Tesco store has four or five security guards. We are the only target left. They probably don’t get the big bucks, so they do more of us to get what they want.”
Raj and Jeeva Srirajan, who run Lyndwhyke Stores in Chichester have suffered abuse from customers and attacks by vandals. They called the police out at the beginning of the year when vandals hurled stones at their windows, and were pleased by the swift response.
Nilesh Amin has owned his 500 sq ft “Cornershop” store in Chichester for more than a year. He says it is in a good community location and generally he does not have a problem with security. His early days there were a different matter, however. Intruders broke in through the back door one night, but were unable to force their way past a second door and set off the burglar alarm.
So, before they fled the building they set fire to a pile of newpapers. Luckily Amin was just upstairs, heard the alarms and managed to contain the fire. The police were unable to catch the culprits
Amin says: “I was disappointed no one was caught. Nobody ever gets caught.”
Raj Tharmarajah, who opened his Supermarket Express store in Littlehampton six months ago, has no such worries He moved from Heathrow to Littlehampton to enjoy a quiet life by the sea, and so far it has lived up to expectations. Although the shop has CCTV, he says crime has never been an issue. “I’m lucky. I have really nice customers.”