4:00pm Monday 7th January 2013
By Zoe Forsey
A jewellery shop in St Albans is picking up the pieces after a car smashed into its window as part of a suspected attempted robbery.
A red Volkswagen Golf, which had been reported as stolen, was driven into the side of Christopher Wharton Goldsmith in George Street at about 5.40am on Friday.
However the would-be thieves did not succeed in getting into the shop due to the strengthened windows and fled the scene empty handed.
The store was also targeted in July last year when a man tried to smash through the window with a sledge hammer while staff were inside.
Christopher Wharton, who owns the store, said: "We got a phone call from the police in the early hours of the morning. They said there had been an accident.
"We found that the car had gone right through the window.
"We knew it was a ram raid.
"The car completely destroyed the side of the shop. They knocked out the window and the wooden frame.
"It was just a mindless attack. It is appalling."
CCTV footage from the store’s cameras show the driver ram into the window.
Mr Wharton said: "You can see two or three people looking around outside.
"You can see them looking in to see how the car had hit and how far they had got in.
"Then you see it reverse and hitting it again.
"It all happened within a couple of minutes then they ran off down George Street."
The shop has been targeted several times since Mr Wharton and his wife Cath took over in 2001.
The couple said that the attacks are becoming more common.
Mr Wharton said: "It is getting worse and worse. We seem to be having major events like this every few months.
"When we took over it was once every few years. It’s becoming a regular occurrence. It is awful."
For insurance reasons the store only displays one of its more expensive watches, which cost about £5000, over night.
The other watches on display have a price tag of about £500.
However the display unit was completely destroyed by the car and they will have to wait about four weeks for a replacement.
Mr Wharton said: "It affects my turnover directly because we can’t show the watches in the window."
Staff are also concerned that the impact of the hit might have caused structural damage to the building and they are paying for a survey to be completed to check.
However Mr Wharton has said that he will not let the break in affect his business.
New glass has already been fitted and the shop is open as normal.
He said: "Everyone worked really hard and we were open that morning.
"I’m not going to let this kind of thing deter us.
"We will keep fighting it.
"This is what we do and we will continue to do it under any circumstances."
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Hertfordshire Constabulary on the non-emergency number 101.
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