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Police step up patrols in Halling after gang of teenagers attack shop

Police are stepping up patrols in Halling after a shopkeeper was attacked and besieged by a gang of abusive teenagers.

Residents say a large group of youngsters from outside the village are regularly entering Halling and causing chaos on their way to the nearby Blue Lake.

Vinay Patel outside Best One off licence in Halling. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Vinay Patel outside Best One off licence in Halling. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Vinay Patel, owner of Best One off licence in Halling High Street, says his shop has borne the brunt of the trouble, forcing him to close it when the gang enters the village.

In the most recent incident, police confirmed a large group of young people caused a disturbance at the store on Wednesday, July 1, stealing items, pushing a member of staff and verbally abusing them.

"It always happens every summer and no one does anything," said Mr Patel, 65, who runs the shop with wife Sneha.

"It's about time someone says enough is enough.

"They come in the shop and take things.

"They go to the Blue Lake and that's when the dramas start - they get up to mischief."

"When you phone 999 it takes so many questions when there's 30-40 kids banging on the door.

"It's scary because it's just myself and my wife here."

"It happens quite often," he added. "They go to the Blue Lake and that's when the dramas start - they get up to mischief."

Residents have come together in support of Mr Patel.

There have been several posting comments online to say he is a long-standing and well-loved member of the community who shouldn't have to deal with being terrorised.

Among them was Christopher Waghorn, who stepped in physically when the shop came under attack last week.

He told KentOnline how he had walked to the shop with his daughter Ellie, 10, and son Darrell, four, when he saw the shop besieged by youngsters.

"I could see a massive group of teenagers as I crossed the road to shop," he recalled. "I could see Vinay had a teenager locked in the shop due to theft and the rest were outside kicking at the door and windows."

He said Vinay then opened the door and was knocked flying by one the gang and Mr Waghorn tried to intervene to protect the shop owner before the gang left for the train station.

"I can't stand and watch bad things happen to good people," added Mr Waghorn. "I have known Vinay since I was a small child."

He described himself as a "proud Halling villager" and said the community should be able to "feel safe and not have to worry about teenagers going in from other places causing trouble and hurting good people".

Police said the report of nuisance behaviour on July 1 had been made at 2.30pm but that the group quickly dispersed.

A statement added: "Several Police Community Support Officers promptly attended to gather further information and check on the victim’s wellbeing.

"A further report of shoplifting and verbal abuse is reported to have taken place on June 25 at 1.30pm and police officers were sent to the scene to carry out enquiries.

"The circumstances are continuing to be assessed and this includes reviewing available CCTV. Increased patrolling has also taken place in the area and officers often visit the shop as part of these."

Anyone with information on the nuisance behaviour is asked to call Kent Police on 01634 792209 quoting 46/109510/20.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111, or using the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org

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