Estate agency chain Connells has reported a spate of thefts at several of its recently re-opened branches in Essex, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire during office hours.
The agency’s group head office is so worried about the sudden spike in crime at its branches that the company has warned competitors to be vigilant.
Connells says individuals have entered its premises, disrespected the company’s social distancing rules, distracted staff and then stolen personal property including mobile phones from the desks of staff who were trying to keep their distance.
“Apparently they say it is rare, but it does beg the question why they in particular suffered this in a number of their branches,” one agent said on a local blogging website.
It is understood that local police have been informed, and Connells has provided guidance and support to colleagues across its branch network to help them stay safe and take reasonable precautions to reduce the likelihood of further incidents.
Connells says a gang of both men and women have been involved in the attempted and actual thefts.
Simon Arnes, Connells Group Estate Agency Operations Director (left), said, “As we return to our branches, our focus must be on the health and safety of our colleagues and customers, which includes observing social distancing measures.
“Regrettably, however, social distancing can also present new opportunities for criminal behaviour.”
After being warned about the ongoing threat, Robert Gordon-James of Martin & Co in Tonbridge, Kent, says he has installed a door bell on the door of his branch, keeps the door locked at all time and ensure staff keep their phones and other valuable hidden