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Maidstone shop owner worries for his business' safety following hate crime and harassment incidents

A shop owner in Maidstone is tired of having his store targeted by young people and worries for the safety of his customers and staff following multiple harassment and attacks.

Reza Tabibi owns Persian Art Emporium at The Mall shopping centre, and has noted more than 14 incidents since opening in 2019, including a hate crime episode.

Reza Tabibi, owner of Persian Art Emporium at The Mall, Maidstone
Reza Tabibi, owner of Persian Art Emporium at The Mall, Maidstone

He also had two disturbances at his neighbouring restaurant.

On one recent occasion, a group of youngsters verbally abused and intimidated his staff before spilling drinks on the store’s rugs.

Mr Tabibi said his 19-year-old daughter, who was running the shop at the time, was left “shaking and in tears”.

He added that as an ethnic minority, he and his staff get verbally abused every week and many times the taunts are racially and religiously motivated.

He said: “This is completely targeted at us and pre-planned and the abuse is getting worse now thanks to Brexit.

Footage shows the youngsters jumping on the store's rugs

“These people are not just harassing us but our customers as well. Do you think any other customer would dare to come in? I don’t think so.”

In October, a dozen young people caused trouble once again by jumping and spilling drinks on his rugs.

The 50-year-old businessman reported one incident to Kent Police, but was left frustrated as nobody was identified following the investigation.

He said: “These thugs are not worried about being on CCTV. And it’s not like a hit and run situation, they actually stay there and do whatever they like. It is shambolic, and just unbelievably chaotic. We don’t feel safe.”

Kent Police investigated with The Mall but could not identify anyone from earlier incidents.

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