Hunt for firebugs as shops count the costBy Caroline Cook
September 09, 2010
Shopkeepers have branded an arson attack which damaged several business as ‘appalling’ and ‘disgusting’ and are now calling for more CCTV in the town centre.
A charity shop was left with smashed windows and scorched walls after vandals torched three wheelie bins which then set fire to the shops.
Cancer Research UK, In Town News newsagents and HSBC bank, all in Market Place, were all damaged by the blaze.
A volunteer from Cancer Research UK, who did not want to be named, said: “We regularly get bin raiders looking for stuff but this could be anybody. Unfortunately it’s just a reflection of modern society I suppose and well, what can you say?
“We were broken into a while ago and a lot of shops have been targeted including the charity shops. It will cost us to put the damage right and that comes out of the money that would have gone for research into cancer.”
Fire crews from Wokingham were called at 3.15am on Saturday where they found three wheelie bins alight at the rear of the shops.
It took them 40 minutes to extinguish the flames and police kept the area cordoned off until later in the day.
Vish Dhiri, owner of In Town News, said: “I think it’s disgusting. We are a small independent business located in the heart of the town and it’s hard enough to keep going as it is.
“At the end of the day for them to do something to us is bad but for them to do it to the charity shop which doesn’t have any profit is disgraceful. It shouldn’t happen anywhere but targeting a charity shop is awful.
“The council needs to put up more CCTV to keep the town safe. There are a lot of other things that go on at night too.”
Mr Dhiri, who has been trading in and around Wokingham for 10 years, said he has already had to install security bars in his shop windows after a window was smashed by would-be thieves.
He said: “It’s just disgusting, there are lives at risk and people who are affected in the long term. If they are going to continue doing malicious damage and arson like this where does it end? It starts with some bins then it goes into large items like cars or buildings.
“If the fire had spread the whole road would have been ruined and it would have closed a lot of businesses.”