Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Millionaires' Row Where Fear Rules People's Lives

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Millionaires' Row Where Fear Rules People's Lives

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGH DOUGHERTY

IT IS the epitome of the affluent leafy suburb, with brick-built homes worth upwards of seven figures, well tended lawns and a strictly-enforced conservation policy.

But behind the peaceful facade, Hampstead Garden Suburb's millionaire residents are increasingly living in fear.

A series of burglaries involving violence, muggings and robberies have created panic in the 200 households in the area, leaving the residents of Winnington Road, Norrice Lea and Neville Drive determined to protect themselves.

Concern is so high that the Neighbourhood Watch association is considering proposals made by one resident - the victim of a violent attack - to introduce round-theclock private security patrols.

The patrols, modelled on those already in operation in Primrose Hill, would be paid for by locals at a cost of [pound]1,000 a year. One resident said it was "well worth paying for peace of mind".

Police believe the wealthy residents are targeted by professional thieves who plan their operations meticulously and even follow their victims home from West End theatres and restaurants to make sure they are there to open safes and locate hidden jewellery at knife or gunpoint.

Virtually every resident in the suburb has increased security by installing video-entry phones, putting bars behind their windows and fitting hi-tech intruder alarms linked to police stations. Security cameras have been positioned behind trees and above doors, and few people use their front gardens for fear they will become targets.

The precautions have not stopped the growing fear of violent and even armed attacks and residents have been told by police that their already tightly stretched resources cannot be pushed even further to provide the kind of round-the-clock protection they want.

One couple's attempt to increase their personal security by installing gates outside their home in breach of strict conservation guidelines failed this week when the High Court ruled they were not entitled to put them up despite support from other residents. …

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