Chiswick Camera Centres (Pic: Andy Sands)
It is the second time in six months the store has been targeted (Pic: Andy Sands)

Thieves attacked one of London’s leading independent camera stores with a stolen van on Friday morning (9 April), escaping with large amounts of stock.

Chiswick Camera Centre, which has been trading in Chiswick in west London for more than 50 years, was left with severe damage to its shopfront after the raid.

But the thieves managed to overlook a Leica M3 in the window which the store’s manager says has survived the incident without a scratch.

The store’s manager has vowed to keep the shop open, which has built a reputation for selling large amounts of secondhand film photography equipment.

The shop’s Instagram page ran a post showing various pictures of the damage, saying: “And the pleasant people of the world strike again! Ramraided last night, all cleared up, stock moved to a secure location we will reopen on Tuesday but you will have to use the back door for a couple of days. These people probably assume the insurance will just pay up, they don’t get the huge loss of profits and increase in insurance costs etc that amount to thousands of pounds! Of course I also had nothing better to do today than clear that up that mess.”

Damaged camera shop shelves (Pic: Andy Sands)
This time the thieves escaped with much of the store’s secondhand stock (Pic: Andy Sands)

Manager Andy Sands told Kosmo Foto: “Thieves (for want of a better unpublishable word) drove a stolen van through the front of our shop, Chiswick Camera Centre at around 2am Friday morning.

“I was immediately notified by our alarm-monitoring company that the police were on their way and I needed to attend, I was also contacted by several local residents who were woken by the event. We had a break in back in November during lockdown where they managed to force the grille up a little with crowbars then smashed the doors and stole a significant amount of stock. They made their escape on stolen mopeds which like the van used this time all have associated victims of theft.

“Presumably they would have known we are about to reopen so would have restocked and as we had made the front much more secure they used more force to get in. The result was a lot more damage as the van smashed the front windows, destroyed the shelving and damaged most of the stock they did not steal!  Again, they got away with a significant amount of equipment, mainly secondhand this time, we are still collating the loss.

“One camera they left behind was a Leica M3 body was buried under a heap of glass and broken shelves but appears to have survived completely unmarked! Unlike a lot of more modern kit that was badly damaged, presumably a lot of the stolen kit is also damaged as well.

Van being lifted by crane (Pic: Andy Sands)
The thieves used a stolen way to break through the shop’s shutters (Pic: Andy Sands)

“We were and still are planning to reopen on Tuesday 13 April, we will need to trade from the rear of the shop while they replace the grille and doors etc. It will be more difficult as we have had to remove most stock of value to a secure location while repairs are completed.

“Going forward we will continue on, there is not a lot you can do, we are a small family-run shop and the impact of the lost profit (insurance only pays net cost prices) and the increased insurance costs every time this happens is very difficult.

Business has been very tough we have had to close for seven months of the last 12 months so this on top is a real issue.

“My best bet is to appeal to customers to support us, our prices are generally the same as the largest multiple retailers. Hopefully, people will decide it is better to spend their money where the profit may help to pay for my eight-year-old old daughters dance classes rather than a large retailer where it will pay for a director’s new Ferrari!”

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Stephen Dowling
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