Shop targeted by thieves

NICOLA MURPHY
Last updated 09:29 26/06/2012
Urban
NICOLA MURPHY
WORN DOWN: Chantelle Huggins is fed up after her clothing store in Avondale, Urban Clothing, has been targeted by criminals eight times in nine months.

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Urban Clothing owner Chantelle Huggins thought she was living the dream when she opened up a second store in Avondale.

But she's regretting it now after being hit with burglary, shoplifting and vandalism eight times in the last nine months.

She's had enough and is thinking about closing the store for good.

Urban Clothing sells street clothing for children and Mrs Huggins designs it all herself, making only eight of each item.

"I can't sleep for fear of the alarm going off. All I want to do is design children's clothing but I feel broken."

Mrs Huggins lives in Mangere Bridge and opened the original Urban Clothing store in Onehunga two years ago.

She's been burgled twice in Onehunga and four times in Avondale over a shorter time span.

In one burglary the offender broke in through the top floor of the building, climbed in through the air conditioning duct and broke the power panel before stealing several jackets.

After the first two break-ins through the front door she increased security and now has steel bolts on all the doors, steel bars across the windows, roller doors, security cameras and alarms at a cost of more than $10,000.

"Whenever it happens again, I call the security company and ask them what my weak spot is so I can fix it and they tell me there's nothing else I can do because I've taken every measure."

She's also losing money on insurance because some of the amounts are too small to claim for.

"One of them smashed a window just to take a $69 jacket and it cost $2000 to replace."

The most recent incident happened on June 16 and involved three men using large rocks to break the windows.

They were interrupted by an ambulance driver before they could take anything.

She's getting desperate and is considering closing the store down, which would result in further financial loss.

"I've got a three-year lease so if I shut up shop I'll be down $100,000.

"I'm angry, so angry. I sold my house to start this business and I've worked so hard," she says.

The stress is also starting to have a detrimental effect on her husband Clive and 12-year-old daughter, who worry each time the alarm sounds.

She's frustrated that police haven't been as responsive as she'd like and she's had to try and identify offenders herself.

Avondale Business Association chairman Duncan MacDonald says Mrs Huggins has been targeted so frequently because her stock appeals to youths.

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"Unfortunately some stock items are more attractive than others for shoplifters."

Senior Sergeant Ross Endicott-Davies is disappointed Mrs Huggins has been targeted so many times.

"It's great that she's invested in good security measures because we rely on quality CCTV footage to identify offenders."

Mr Endicott-Davies says the police try to proactively patrol wherever possible.

But Mrs Huggins says that's not enough.

"I've got nothing left and I don't know what else to do."

- Western Leader

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